Online Reputation Management for Physicians and Why it Matters
Reputation management for doctors and physicians is essential in order to ensure online feedback is accurate and positive. A study published in the Journal of American Medicine shows that patients are now using more than before online ratings to decide on what physician to visit.
In the study, patients were asked to rate the factors when they choose a medical practice or physician. At the top of the list, unsurprisingly, was finding a doctor who accepts the patient’s health insurance with 89% of respondents choosing it. Other popular factors included convenient office location and years of expertise.
However on major factor that was often highlighted is the reputation of the doctor. At least 75% of respondents indicated that a trusted medical practice is important. In extension, 85% of the patients said they look for a doctor through word of mouth from family and friends. Referrals for doctors and physicians are paramount to have a healthy reputation online and offline.
Furthermore, physician’s rating on websites is also influential during the patients’ decision making process. Nearly 60% consider a doctor’s online reputation to be at least somewhat important.
The Importance of Reputation Management
The study reveals that rating websites for physicians are growing in popularity and the trend is expected to continue. Patients often view online reviews or feedback as their peers’ opinion, hence the overreliance on internet research when looking for a doctor. Not all websites are trustworthy, however people will use any information they can find as a baseline.
The survey also shows that 65% of respondents were aware of physician review sites such as Healthgrades.com, Vitals.com and RateMDs.com. Most of them have rated the information they found as somewhat useful.
The key takeaway is that patients will be influenced by online doctor reviews and take a decision based on these. Over 1/3 of patients said they based their decision on a positive rating. At the same time 37% have avoided a physician based on reviews they didn’t like.
Clearly physician review websites have a high impact on patients’ decisions. Understandably doctors and physicians should care about their online reputation management. Even though the majority of online reviews in the healthcare industry tend to be fair, there is still a need to improve a physician’s online reputation. Not all satisfied patients will write about their experience, hence in order to project an accurate image a physician should strive for more positive reviews. After all, one bad review out of 5 is more damaging than one in 50.