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When it comes to growing your small medical practice, few things matter more than your reputation.

You can have the most specialized references, the most avant-garde equipment, the most professional staff. Yet, unless potential patients know you and feel they can trust you, they’re unlikely to find their way to your office door.

Good physicians have focused on building their reputation within their communities throughout history. The American Medical Association emphasized word of mouth in its original code of ethics, published in 1847, where it called paid advertising «  »highly reprehensible« And » derogatory to the dignity of the (medical) profession « .

Two centuries later, building a reputation is just as crucial, except it is now done almost entirely online, where patients are motivated to share positive and negative experiences with the world. Your reputation is now being publicized in a way that you cannot control. Search engine algorithms. Online evaluation sites. Social media posts.

If you run a small practice and think you only have a limited number of hours in the day, it’s especially tempting to ignore your online reputation.

Here’s why you need to resist the urge.


The cost of ignoring online reviews

Poll after poll confirms it: The vast majority of healthcare consumers start their search for a provider online.

According to a 2020 analysis by SoftwareAdvice.com, more than 70% of respondents said online reviews are their first step in finding a healthcare provider. Over 90% said they had used online reviews at some point in their search for health care. Inc.com found that 84% of consumers said they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

Increasingly, healthcare consumers are making their provider decisions in this online space. Many say they are even willing to step out of the network to see a supplier with positive reviews and online profiles.


Online Reputation Management 101

At a minimum, your small practice needs:

  • A site optimized for search engines
  • Correct contact details on Google and other sites
  • A plan to monitor and respond to online reviews

It can seem daunting to add all of this on top of patient care, billing, payroll, professional development, and the myriad of other tasks involved in running your practice. But once you have a few systems in place, it takes less time than you might imagine, especially if you are using tools that allow you to easily monitor your reputation online.

Steps in Online Reputation Management


The first step in developing your online reputation action plan is to spend some time looking at what is already out there about you and your practice. It’s something you can do in an hour or less, so there’s no excuse for delaying.

  • Make sure your practice is listed onGoogle My business(GMB) and that the information is correct and up to date.
  • Visit all the major review sites and take stock of what has already been said about you and your practice.
  • If possible, search social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to see if you’ve received any mentions.

Once you have this information, you should have a better idea of ​​what to do next. Your goals for the future are simple:

  • For Google My Business, you’ll want to optimize your ad and try to gand in the critical « Local 3-Pack », the top three listings people will see if they Google search for your business category. About 75% of Google users only see ads on the first page. Therefore, the higher your ranking, the more traffic you will receive.
  • On review sites like Yelp, HealthGrades, Vitals, RateMD, etc., you want to make sure that the vast majority of your reviews are positive. Google My Business also allows users to post reviews, and the more reviews you get, the higher you can rank in search results.
  • Social media can be harder to influence, but at least you need to make sure you have an optimized Facebook business page so that you can respond to both positive and negative reviews.



There are tools and professionals who can monitor your reputation online, help you optimize your profiles, and even help generate positive reviews.

This will not only save you time and effort, but it can also increase the number and quality of leads you receive over time, giving you a great return on your investment.

That said, you can also take a DIY approach by setting up Google Alerts or setting a schedule for you and your staff to regularly check review sites and post to your social media accounts.

Whatever you choose, do it consistently and review it periodically to make sure you’re getting the results you want.


No one likes negative reviews. People don’t even seem to like writing them; surveys have found that 70-75% of online reviews from healthcare professionals are positive, and only about 1% are « very negative ».

But that doesn’t mean you can afford to ignore the negative reviews you receive. In some of those same surveys, around 65% of those polled said they think it’s important for doctors to respond to negative reviews.

HIPAA regulations make responding to bad reviews somewhat tricky. Under the rules, doctors cannot directly recognize that an examiner has been a patient in your care. Even if the examiner graphically details their experience with your desk, you cannot confirm (or deny) anything.

But here’s what you can do: You can be polite, professional, and empathetic, and you can talk about your commitment to high quality patient care. In a sense, you are addressing your response not to the critic but to the reader who encounters this exchange months or years later.

Since many consumers say they read between one and six reviews before forming an opinion, the best tactic is always to have many more positive reviews on a given site than negative reviews. There are several ways to gently solicit positive reviews; for example, you can include links to review sites on your practice website or in patient emails.


Embrace online reputation management

Ultimately, online reputation management is another form of advertising. But unlike traditional paid advertising, engaging with reviews online allows you to speak directly to your target audience and give them confidence that you are the healthcare provider for them.

Rather than avoid managing that online presence, embrace it. It’s a small investment of time and effort that pays big dividends for your small business.

Contact Advice Media today to discuss Review Power and other digital solutions for the medical practice.

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