In the past, medical practices heavily relied on word-of-mouth advertising to build their reputation within their communities to increase their new patient numbers. Word-of-mouth advertising in medical practices is the process of influencing and encouraging discussions about your medical practice through those in your community. Essentially, it is triggered by a patient experience that goes beyond what your patients expect. In turn, your brand or medical practice will be actively promoted in discussions through recommendations.
While it is still an effective way to increase the reputation of any medical practice and help it grow, classic word-of-mouth advertising is a rather outdated strategy. These days, you cannot just wait for people to recommend you to others to grow your patient base. You have to take action and do the job yourself by actively promoting your medical practice online and offline.
There are good reasons why you need to build up and manage your online reputation. People nowadays go to the Internet to gain information on just about anything, and they usually trust the information that they find online.
If you want your medical practice to succeed and grow, managing your online reputation is a critical factor for your marketing efforts. Building a credible reputation can help you rank higher in the search engines. In addition, patients will be encouraged to use your services when there is a need.
Here are 30 reputation management strategies that you can implement for your medical practice in 2020.
#1 Build a Website
Your website is the foundation of your online reputation. A website will let your patients know all the important information about your medical practice. Patients prefer medical practices with their own websites, and websites also play a major role in how your patients perceive your medical practice.
When creating a website, it should have your name or the name of your medical practice so that your patients will easily find your website when they look for your name.
There are certain ways that you can present your reputable website to your patients. Enabling the https protocol (check if you have an SSL certificate) in your website tells your patients that your website is safe and their private data is secure.
Another factor that you should also consider in your website is its design. Make sure that you have a professional and responsive website design to provide the best user experience to your patients.
#2 Feed Your Patients with High-Quality Content
Blogging is one of the best ways that you can build your online reputation. Providing advice and useful information to your patients through blogs can help establish your online authority.
Search engines prioritize content made by medical professionals on their websites, and posting regular blogs on your medical website can help you showcase your expertise and skills about your profession.
#3 Guest Posting
You can also create content and have it published on local or relevant websites to build your online reputation. This strategy is guest posting. While creating high-quality content on your own website is the foundation of growing your authority and reputation online, solely relying on this is not enough because your competitors are doing the same.
Guest posting is used to build backlinks, and these links will point back to your website which will effectively increase your reach. Every time your patients will look for your name, your guest posts on other websites will come up in the search results increasing your online reputation.
#4 Be Social
Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and YouTube allow you to communicate with your patients regularly and to engage them in discussions. These platforms are also a great way to get positive reviews from your patients. Facebook, in particular, lets you set up a business profile where you can put your information such as opening and closing hours, your location, images, videos, announcements and reviews.
Your social media profiles also help increase traffic to your website by posting engaging content that links back to your website.
#5 Optimizing Your Google My Business Profile
Google My Business is a small snippet in the Google search results that contains information about a business. GMB profiles that appear in the local search results are usually the first ones that searchers click because these business listings are considered to be trustworthy and are easily visible.
By claiming and optimizing your Google My Business listing, every time your patients search for your website, Google will show up a snippet that contains your information so they can easily reach out to you.
Take for example Carolina Pharmacy, an independent pharmacy in Charlotte that we helped optimized their GMB profiles for each of their locations. We helped them manage their online reputation and as a result, they have increased the positive reviews on their GMB profile as well as rank on the top of the Google search results for their targeted keywords.
#6 Be Proactive
Once you have set up your website, social media profiles and GMB listing, expect that patients will come to you asking questions and will provide reviews about your services.
By actively responding to online reviews, negative or positive, this will show that you are ready to listen to your patients and address their concerns.
#7 Create Social Media Profiles for Medical Professionals
While we are more accustomed to the common social media platforms, there are also online communities that cater to very specific demographics.
There are actually social media sites for medical professionals, and you can utilize these platforms to help increase your online reputation. Websites such as CareDash, Doximity, Sharecare and WebMD are good places where you can create an individual listing that allows your patients to leave positive reviews.
#8 Post on Q&A Websites
Q&A websites such as Quora helps people who are looking for solutions to their problems. Users who engage and contribute to these kinds of websites are usually upvoted by the community and are able to build authority and reputation within these types of platforms.
Another upside of utilizing this strategy is that if you gain enough authority in these platforms, your name will also rank higher in search engines when someone looks you up on the Internet.
#9 Use Videos
Videos are gaining popularity because there is an endless number of ways that you can provide unique, engaging and creative content. This is why YouTube has become the second-largest search engine. The platform has also become one of the most powerful and effective ways for medical and dental professionals to increase their reputation online.
One of our clients, Modern Family Dental Care, uses YouTube to provide relevant content to their patients. With this, their patients are able to see the services they provide, their dentists and their state-of-the-art dental office.
#10 Present Information in Engaging Ways
Medical professionals who provide information to their patients in engaging ways are more likely to be remembered and viewed as a credible source.
Slideshare, a popular platform for professional infographics and presentations, is used by many medical practices to showcase thought leadership.
#11 Track Online Presence
Tracking your online presence will help you avoid any issues and react quickly whenever someone gives you a bad review.
Google has a nifty tool called Alerts that lets you set up an alert whenever a specific word is mentioned online such as your name or business. This way, you will be able to respond immediately to any instance that you are mentioned on the Internet.
#12 Treat Each Patient as a Reviewer
Treat your patients as if they are always going to criticize your services and review your business. What we mean is that you should treat each patient with respect and always try to give them the best experience by projecting the image that you would want to have in your medical practice.
#13 Request Feedback From Your Patients
Even if your patients feel satisfied with their every visit in your medical office, chances are they will not leave a positive review on your website or social media profiles. It’s not that they don’t want to, but sometimes they simply do not have time or they do not feel obliged to leave feedback for your services.
You can ask them to leave reviews and provide feedback. It was found out in a survey that 70% of customers will leave a review when they are asked to and 50% of them will more likely leave a positive review, so it doesn’t hurt to ask for one on their next visit.
#14 Hire a Team That Will Manage Your Online Reputation
Managing your online reputation is no easy task. But, you can lift the burden off your shoulders by hiring a team that will manage your online reputation. Most of these companies are digital marketing and PR agencies, so your SEO needs will also be covered.
Med Rank Interactive is a digital marketing agency in Charlotte that helps medical and dental practices with their online management reputation and SEO needs. We can manage your online reputation and build your authority through effective digital marketing strategies so you can focus more on your patients.
#15 Forget About Fake Reviews
Fake reviews are an easy way of filling your website with positive reviews.
But, is it worth it?
A big no! Search engines have a way of knowing and verifying if reviews are fake, and it can greatly hurt your medical practice and credibility if you are flagged of fraudulent behaviors.
There are also times where your competitors or their employees will give you fake reviews so that they can try to get ahead of you. In this kind of situation, you have to handle it professionally and be careful with your replies because it might cause more damage to your reputation.
You can also report fake reviews so that review sites will remove them after you submit enough evidence that those are indeed fake reviews.
Med Rank Interactive has a process for disputing fake reviews and having them removed. Contact us for more details.
#16 Avoid Getting Into Arguments
While we advise you to be proactive in responding to reviews, you should avoid getting into online arguments whenever someone leaves a negative review of your medical practice. You should respond professionally and offer a private discussion to resolve the problem.
#17 Avoid Posting Personal Stuff on Your Professional Channels
Whenever your patients look you up on the Internet, what they want to see is the important information that can help them with their concerns. They also look for indicators that can verify if you are a reliable and dependable medical professional.
They do not want to see what you ate for dinner or your political stance. Keep your private life separated from your professional profiles, and only post relevant content about your practice.
#18 Learn From Your Peers
Read online reviews of other doctors and find out what patients want. You can also study your competitors and identify their strengths and weaknesses and apply this to your medical practice. This way, you can create strategies that will allow you to improve your practice.
#19 Don’t Forget Your Staff
Your medical practice carries your name and your reputation, and you have to do all that you can to avoid tarnishing it. This includes your staff too as they also represent your medical practice.
Train your staff on the proper way of interacting with patients offline because online reviews will not only focus on you but also on the way that your staff handles each patient.
#20 Guide the Patients Through the Review Process
We strongly recommend that you ask patients to leave feedback on your website or social media profiles. However, not all of them can be technically inclined and they might know how to. Guide them through the review process by providing clear instructions.
We at Med Rank Interactive use a very useful review automation tool called My Social Practice to handle patient reviews for our clients. Through this tool, patients can conveniently provide feedback through text messaging and emails.
#21 Ask for Video Testimonials
As we have mentioned, videos are engaging ways of providing new content to your patients,
However, do you know that you can also have patient testimonial videos?
You can ask your patients to create short videos detailing their experiences with your medical practice. Aside from that, you will also be able to keep your content interesting using multiple types of media.
#22 Automate It!
Automating your services can make it easier for patients to enjoy them. These days, you can automate appointments, communications and other things to give your patients a seamless experience.
Localmed is a helpful tool that we use to make booking appointments more convenient for our dental clients. With Localmed, our clients are able to put up a 24/7 online scheduling portal for their dental practices.
#23 Focus Also on Your In-Person Reputation
You should give an equal focus on your in-person and online reputation if you want to succeed. Your in-person reputation is how you interact with your patients. This is simply the professional conduct that you show to your patients.
#24 Make Sure that Information is Correct
The way you answer inquiries and communicate with your patients online will always remain on the Internet. Make sure all of the information that you hand out to your patients is accurate because inaccuracy can put your online reputation in danger.
#25 Remember Regulations
Running a medical practice requires full compliance with certain regulations. Even when you are running your business online, you still need to comply with regulations and guidelines for medical professionals. One such guideline is HIPAA. Make sure that your website is fully compliant with HIPAA and that you follow the procedures dictated in HIPAA.
#26 Be Smart in Resolving Issues
Whether you like it or not, there will be patients who are just unhappy with your services despite giving your best in accommodating them. However, you should be smart when resolving these kinds of issues.
Know when to resolve an issue privately or publicly. Let them know that you are serious in providing solutions to their problems, and they might remove their negative reviews if they see that you are willing to help them in every step of the way.
#27 Take Responsibility for Your Mistakes
There will be times that you will commit mistakes but the key to maintaining your reputation is to take responsibility for your mistakes and to offer actions on how you can correct your fault.
#28 Learn to Ignore Negative Reviews
It does not mean that you will not attempt to address negative reviews. It is important that you keep track of your negative reviews so you can correct it and improve your service. However, you should know that it is perfectly fine to have some negative reviews because you can’t always please everyone.
Just make sure that you keep the negative reviews to a minimum because your patients will look for another medical practice if they find out that you have more negative reviews than positive ones.
#29 Patient Demographics
Creating patient demographics will let you connect more personally to your patients. This will also serve as a guide on how you will present the information to certain patient groups. However, know that you should always present yourself professionally at all times.
#30 Be Patient
This is a guide that we prepared to help you have a solid foundation on how you can manage your online reputation. However, you should not expect that your patient base will skyrocket and your medical practice will become an instant authority if you follow this guide step-by-step.
You should understand that building your online reputation and managing it takes time and there is no shortcut in doing it.
There is no clear indication when search engines crawl and index your website and profiles, and you shouldn’t expect that the changes you make will have an impact overnight. That is why you should dedicate time and effort in managing your online reputation.
If you do not have the time, you can outsource others to do it for you. Contact us and find out how we can help manage your online reputation.