Social media continues to evolve and its influence can have both positive and negative effects for physicians and other healthcare providers. Just a few years ago many of our clients had no social media presence, and most did not maintain a website. Things are changing, it is vitally important for physicians to understand how to manage their social media/internet presence.
Many patients & prospective patients search online before going to see their doctor/physician. I recently encountered a neighbor who had some health issues, when it came time to see a specialist, they went to the internet. The cardiologist they eventually selected, was due in part to the ratings they found online. I know several MD’s whom I hold in high regard, they care about their patients and are knowledgeable in their field. I would consider them to be excellent physicians. However, these individuals have a few personality quirks that may cause a patient to see them as harsh or negative, when in reality they are just being themselves, a Physician or Doctor who cares enough to tell the patient the reality of a situation. A patient who is seeking justice can now go to sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn to quickly spread the negative word among their peers. Once one complains, it may compel others to follow and they make seek out one of the physician ratings sites that appear at the top of many search engine pages.
Physicians and other healthcare providers can no longer ignore the importance of online reviews. Managing ones reputation online does a lot more than generate new business, it directly impacts patient retention rates. Websites like RateMD’s & Healthgrades show up at the top of many internet searches. Some recent reviews survey 61% of patients report consulting online reviews prior to selecting a doctor, and a 20% use them to help evaluate a current doctor.
Today’s healthcare system is a far different landscape than in years past. Individual physician offices and small medical groups face stiff competition in finding and retaining patients. Healthcare professionals need to start seeing their patients as clients vs. just patients. Unhappy patients complain not only online, but they are far more likely to file a malpractice claim than one who has had a positive experience with their provider.
“From the foreword in a book written by Dr. Kevin Pho… “whether we like it or not, our online reputation is becoming the main prism through which we will be known – to colleagues, to friends, to patients, to prospective employers … With this realization comes the recognition that we can no longer afford to be passive observers of our online persona.”