The answer is yes. But work to enhance it.
If a doctor is thinking about rebranding his practice, I always recommend that he/she spend some time reading the online reviews of their practice. It might not always be pleasant, but at least now we know how the doctor is perceived. But should a doctor be that concerned with his/her online reputation?
Online reputation management is a weird concept. It assumes that our online and offline worlds are separate things — which they are not. In fact, a lot of the online discussion in forums or Facebook could potentially affect your real world practice. That’s scary, but it’s true. Because people tend to trust other people when it comes to healthcare. Why? Because the healthcare industry is such a big, noisy, confusing animal that it’s easier to just ask a friend for a referral or go online and read a handful of reviews. Their words can influence your appointment schedule.
I actually know a few doctors who are constantly worried about their online reputation and maybe they should be. But a lot of those fears have nothing to do with their reputation directly, but rather what others are saying about them. This seems to be a preoccupation nearly unique to doctors. But I always tell them this:
You can’t control the conversation or the content. You can only join or add to it.
While you can try to control how things appear, ultimately you have to show up and address the things that don’t look so good. You can’t take down someone’s hurtful review, but you can try to rectify it. And then suddenly, you’re the doctor who wants to make it right; the doctor who is proactive about making patients happy outside of the doctor’s office. It’s a smart way of turning a negative situation into a nice opportunity to boost your image. So, consider opening yourself up a little by joining in the public discourse. Because trust and transparency should never get lost in a layer of fear. And the worst thing you can do is hide.
In our agency, we like to get inside the heads of our client’s customers and try to understand how they think. That’s what you need to do, too.
Read your online reviews to gain insightful research — whether or not the reviews are good. More importantly, engaging in online conversations about your practice is the first step in learning how to really speak to your patients.
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