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Managing Sites Yourself is a Bad Idea

Many healthcare practitioners believe they can manage a couple key sites themselves and keep on top of their negative reviews. With so many sites to choose from, including Yelp, Yahoo, Google+, RateMDs, Wellness, Vitals and Healthgrades which ones should you regularly monitor?

Obviously, Yelp is a big concern as its influence and use has grown since its inception, but perhaps of even greater concern is the esoteric sites, which are not easily found on the Internet. These specialty sites, with their niche sphere of influence …

While a simple Google or Bing search will generate several reviews, it will not list every online review of your practice and services. And new review sites pop up continuously. Combine those with all the social media outlets where people post publicly about their experiences in real time — whether it’s 140 characters or blog posts — and professionals, their services, and staff members are under constant and intense scrutiny. Their reputation, under constant threat of assault. One person’s bad experience can end up as a blog post gone viral.

In order to effectively monitor an online reputation, a doctor would have to spend hours every day searching for reviews and never have time to practice medicine! The greater challenges to self-management of reviews are knowing which reviews to respond to and how to respond effectively without inciting a heated discussion or garnering further negative reviews.

Physicians typically want to present their “side of the story”, which also puts them in danger of violating the HIPAA law. Although practitioners know and follow the HIPAA guidelines every day in their practice, a negative review — especially one containing biting criticism or false accusations — can emotionally charge a physician’s response to the point when sensitive patient information is revealed. Anything a person can use to identify the patient is a HIPAA violation. That danger aside, the biggest challenges to managing an online reputation remain time to actually do it and finding all the reviews.

An online reputation management team is the doctor’s best defense in the complex game of reputation management. The team finds the reviews that require a response, responds to both negative and positive reviews to set the record straight and thank those for their kind words, and requests that certain negative reviews that qualify for removal, be deleted from the review site. A great reputation management team also increases the number of positive reviews on a site, which helps raise the physician’s rating. With all the detail and work that goes into reputation monitoring and management, what physician can find the extra hours and energy in a day to search, read, and respond to reviews?

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