As a medical practitioner, you need to know what your patients are saying about you online. While managing your online profile may not be on top of your long list of priorities, it really is something that needs to be carefully considered. Many doctors don’t worry about this as they believe they have automatic recurring business and a long list of referrals to rely on. But actually, when it comes to growing your practice, online referrals hold a lot of weight and can really sway new customers to make bookings. So how does a busy medical practitioner with an even busier practice become proactive about managing their online profiles?
1. Begin with a self-assessment
Look yourself up online and analyse your current online presence. This can involve reading through your own social media presence with a critical eye, googling yourself, checking reviews and assessing your website. Next, you need to do a thorough gap analysis in order to understand what areas need improvement going forward.
2. Plan your strategy
This is where your plan turns into action and begins with a strong reputation management strategy that really embraces online reviews. Here you will have a number of choices on how to deal with this task. You can either monitor the process yourself, or you can designate someone in your practice to manage this for you. A further option would be to hire outside help. Your time and budget will determine which is the best option for you. The main point here though is that you need to manage your online profile and take full control of how your reputation is managed online.
3. Analyse your medical practice as a whole
It is a reality that in today’s climate, concerned patients try to resolve offline problems, online. So you need to really consider how your entire practice is run and ensure that complaints are addressed in a considered way. This consists of anything from staff and patient interaction, to exam room cleanliness to time spent in the waiting room. Watch for online comments about all these soft issues and be ready to address them when they crop up.
4. Ask for reviews
If you want to be proactive you need to generate positive reviews online. Pay careful attention to patients who seem to be having a good experience with you and then following the consult, send them a link to upload a comment and review. It’s always best to request this personally and ideally face to face. Also, make it easy for satisfied customers to leave comments. Certain practices even leave tablets in their waiting rooms so patients can post immediately following their consultation, in real-time.
5. Never ignore a comment
Whether a comment is good or bad, it is so important that you address all comments made by acknowledging them. It may not always be appropriate to comment in detail but you can also say that you are sorry to hear about their experience and you will follow this up with a personal call. Further to this, a simple “thank you” for positive comments will go a long way in showing patients that their time and effort are appreciated.
The bottom line
The key to managing your online profile is remaining authentic at all times. Never post fake reviews or engage in anything unethical. Your reputation is your calling card and you owe it to your practice to carefully manage your profile from in-person to online. While you are highly specialised and concerned primarily with patient care, never forget that you are a business owner too. And like all entrepreneurs, you need to be carefully curating your online presence in order to grow your practice and increase your bottom line.