“Doctors today cannot ignore their online reputation” – Kevin Pho, M.D., social media’s leading physician voice
Feeling ill? Google your symptoms. Looking for an at-home treatment for sore back muscles? Turn to WebMD. Need to get that sinus infection checked out? Search online for the most top-rated ENT doc in your area.
It’s clear that Americans’ health-care decisions are made with the help of a PC, tablet or smart phone these days. Take a look at the stats:
- 41 percent of consumers say Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and online forums influence their choice of a specific hospital, medical facility or doctor, according to consulting firm PwC.
- Most Americans (54%) are going online to determine which physicians to see, what treatment to get, and what services a hospital or clinic might provide, Manhattan Research found.
- About one in five patients go to online rating sites, says Pew Research Center.
Many health care companies are embracing the tools online that allow for open avenues of communication for patients. But some say they’re resistant to engaging social media for their medical practices or companies. Our response, time and time again, is:
“People are talking about you online; wouldn’t you want to be part of the conversation?”
That’s a question that Dr. Kevin Pho (or Kevin MD as he’s known online) poses to the health care community in his new book: Establishing, Managing, and Protecting Your Online Reputation: A Social Media Guide for Physicians and Medical Practices, co-authored with Susan Gay. (Watch the “book trailer” on YouTube.) We found the book to be spot on with its push for physicians to know how important it is to manage your online reputation. Here’s what others are saying about the book and this topic.
“For those who are interested in the potential that social media has in patient care, consider that, according to Pew Internet, 72% of patients research their health information on the Web, but less than half check the source of the information they read. And that’s a problem, when you consider the wealth of misleading, or dangerous, information that’s out there. Social media is a powerful way to connect with patients and guide them to more reputable sources of health information.”
“When it comes to a physician’s online image, the first mistake he can make is to ignore it. ‘When you consider how online reviews have affected other industries, like books, hotels, and restaurants, it’s inevitable that this level of transparency will become the standard in healthcare,’ Pho says. ‘So it’s up to physicians to be aware of their online reputation, because if they aren’t, patients and other entities will define them online.’”
“If physicians don’t take steps to control what shows up on a Google search, others will control how doctors appear online. It could be a negative patient review. A blog post from a disgruntled staff member. Or a news or television story that paints a doctor in a negative light. Physicians need to take proactive steps to establish and manage their online reputation. Soon, it will be as important as their reputation in the community.”
“What I try to do when talking to media publications is to reframe social media in a positive light. I mentioned earlier about connecting with patients online, and helping to clear up misconceptions on the web, but a couple other positive things we need to enforce would be how social media can improve patient satisfaction. I think patient satisfaction is growing increasingly important and more and more of an influence in terms of how hospitals are paid.”
“Most physicians I talk to aren’t aware of how they appear online, or dismiss its relevance. But consider how online reviews have disrupted other industries, like books, movies or hotels. Would you go to a hotel, or dine at a restaurant, without reading a review online first? I wouldn’t. The same goes for healthcare. Eventually, most patients will “meet” their doctors first on Google before setting foot in their office.”
Pho says most physicians already have a professional presence online, whether they’re aware of it or not, thanks to the proliferation of doctor review sites. Unfortunately, those sites often contain inaccurate information, or worse, negative patient reviews.
Armada’s social media team employs online reputation management tools and makes it easy for clients to quickly respond to a patient inquiry, complaint or positive review. In addition, we help physicians get profiles on LinkedIn, claim online directory listings, improve the ability of patients to find our clients’ centers with Google Places and its integrated map function, and apply photos, a logo, brand messaging and key information to these listings. And most importantly, we continuously monitor the online “reputation” of our clients’ docs, brand and company name. So if a patient or physician posts a negative review, we’ll find it and help our client respond appropriately to minimize its impact.
People are talking about you online, be a voice in the conversation!
Micki is Armada’s director of social media and also works in the PR department as a senior account manager.