Healthcare and dental practices know by now that reputation is everything. These days, when we talk about reputation we’re not just talking about what patients say about you to friends and family, we’re talking about what patients say to the entire world by way of online reviews and social media.
It won’t surprise you to learn that according to Software Advice, 72% of patients use online reviews as their first step in finding a new doctor. And why wouldn’t they? When they can easily vet providers with a few clicks, it’s no wonder most patients use reviews as their first step.
However, understanding that reviews and social media are crucial is just the first step. From here, you must create a plan for how to maintain and boost your reputation. But where to begin? Let’s look at the dos and don’ts of reputation management for healthcare and dental practice.s
What should your practice be doing right now to keep your reputation or to elevate it? Here are a few ideas:
Provide high-quality patient care and service
The most obvious solution is often the most overlooked. No amount of new reviews can fix a practice that doesn’t provide great care. While you can certainly use reviews to identify ways to improve, the quality of the care you provide should be your first consideration. Taking excellent care of patients across every step in the patient journey is central to a great reputation. Without it, you’ll never be highly-regarded practice.
Monitor online reviews and social media daily
It’s tough to remember to monitor reviews if you don’t have the proper processes in place. Make it a priority with your team to be monitoring review sites like Google and Healthgrades, and take care to check in on your social media sites if you have them. Most tools will allow you to set up alerts that tell you when new reviews or messages come in. You may also consider using a tool like Swell that can aggregate new reviews into one place and notify you via email.
Encourage satisfied patients to leave positive reviews
Whether you ask in person or use an automated tool to send text-based review invites (these typically result in more responses), be sure to develop a program for generating more reviews from your existing patients. If you want more detail on how, check out this post.
Respond promptly and professionally to negative reviews
You should reply to new reviews, but negative reviews in particular require an immediate response. Be courteous, understanding, and offer to speak to the patient in person to try and resolve the issue. If you need more guidance on how to respond to reviews, check out this piece.
Take action to address patient complaints and concerns
It’s one thing to reply to a review but quite another to address the issue that prompted the complaint in the first place. Take a look at your processes and decide whether some changes will help prevent issues like this one going forward. Be sure to connect with your internal team, show them the reviews, and hear their ideas for improvement.
Now, let’s talk about the things you’ll want to avoid at all costs. Here’s a look at a few things that can destroy your reputation.
Ignoring negative reviews and comments
Negative reviews won’t go away and if you choose to ignore them, potential patients who read them only see one side of the story–the negative one. Further, your practice will appear as though it doesn’t care enough to address issues, which makes your practice look terrible. Don’t ignore reviews, face them head one.
Responding defensively or aggressively to negative reviews
Prospects will notice if you answer negative reviews defensively or with aggression. We’ve all likely seen the reviews where businesses attempt to blame their customers for issues. While patients can certainly be the cause of the issue in some cases (particularly a failure to understand billing, due dates, or contracts), your prospects might not see it that way. Address complaints courteously and attempt to address the details one-on-one with the patient, not in an online sparring match.
Posting fake positive reviews or testimonials
Yes, there are services that can post fake reviews and testimonials for you. No, you absolutely should not use them. Google and other review platforms become more sophisticated every day, and they can easily sniff out fake reviews based on a number of markers. In the end, they will only hurt you and you reputation. In most cases, they’ll also violate the terms of service on the platform in question, which means your profile could be removed altogether. You’ll have a tough time finding patients without a Google listing. Stay away from fake reviews.
Violating patient privacy or confidentiality
Not only is this crucial for your patient reputation, as you know, it’s the law under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Whether you’re replying to reviews and comments, or just conducting normal day-to-day operations, it’s essential that you keep patient records private. Further, be sure to invest in security and follow all HIPAA guidelines. Undergoing a data breach or data loss event is a quick way to destroy your reputation and get fined.
Engaging in unethical or illegal behavior
This should go without saying, but illegal or unethical behavior will quickly wreck your reputation. Consider, too, that unethical behavior can include things, like adding unexpected fees to procedures, over-billing for certain medicines and services, or just providing patients with deceptive information about a procedure, process, or bill. Be transparent and honest with your patients, play a fair game, and you’ll be just fine.
So, what does it look like when a practice handles their reputation well? Here are a few examples of Swell customers that took on a few unique reputation challenges.
Acre Wood Dental
Acre Wood Dental was doing a fantastic job on the clinical side, but their patient acquisition efforts were lacking and they just didn’t seem to get many reviews from the patients they had. After some online research, they found Swell. With Swell, Acre Wood set review generation efforts on autopilot through automatic texting. Patients simply click a link and leave a Google review in just a few clicks. They’ve seen their review numbers skyrocket with little effort, which led to an influx of new patients each month. In total, they got about 35 new patients each month since starting with Swell.
Kids Plus Pediatrics
Kids Plus was bombed by fake negative Google reviews posted by anti-vaccination advocates. While they attempted to contact Google to remove them, they couldn’t get them all removed. Kids Plus had a plan that involved drowning out the fake reviews with new ones from their true patients and advocates. They did some research and found a tool called Swell, which made it easy to automatically invite patients to leave reviews. They integrated with their EMR and quickly saw authentic positive reviews start flowing in. Soon, their online reputation grew to match the high level of care they provide, helping them bring in new patients. In total, they gained 231 new reviews in their first year with Swell.
Your reputation helps you find new patients. It helps the world see that you’re a trustworthy provider. More than anything else, your reputation is worth protecting and investing in. And if you’re wondering where to put marketing dollars for the absolute biggest return? Invest in your reputation, which in this world, means generating new, authentic reviews from your patients. If you’re curious how to do it, contact our team to get started.
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