In today’s Internet culture, we rate everything. We rate the restaurants we frequent, we rate the shows we watch, we rate our friends, and we rate our physicians. 80 percent of Americans use the Internet to look for health information; half of those web searchers look up their healthcare providers, 40 percent use physician review websites, and 47 percent of patients who checked their physician’s reputation online felt differently about their doctor after reviewing their profile.
Emphasis on patient satisfaction is a good goal but rating systems for physicians have some negative consequences. Internal rating systems used by employers, such as Press Ganey scores that tie physician compensation to patient ratings, can result in doctors facing consequences simply for giving an unwanted diagnosis or not providing opioids. External review systems lack the control that internal systems do, so disgruntled patients can mar reputations by leaving several negative reviews, and non-patients are often able to leave reviews without any experience with the doctor. So what is a doctor to do about their external ratings?
A physician recently asked his fellow doctors on SERMO: how do you increase your online reputation/ ratings?”
- Maintain your online brand
While monitoring and cultivating online reputations is not what doctors specialize in, it’s worth personally managing these accounts or hiring help if they are posing issues. Learning the rules of the review sites can help with this process:
“You can get social media consultants. Also on some of those websites, there are rules about writing reviews. If they use a specific name or can’t prove something that would be considered slander, you can request those sites to remove your review. Each site has its rules.” – General Surgery
“Hire a professional web page designer to promote you on Google/ Facebook / and Twitter. If you are young and early in your career, it will be very important.” – Hematology Oncology
- Garner support from you existing patients
Actively requesting content from patients who have a good experience is a great way to bolster online reputation. While it may feel a bit strange at first, many patients are highly accustomed to leaving reviews for good experiences:
“When I have a patient tell me how much better they feel, I ask them to let their family doc know and to consider writing a review online and that has helped generate more positive online reviews.” – General Surgery
“If you have a happy patient, maybe give them a card at the end of their visit and ask if they would like to write a quick review about why they enjoyed their care. Give them links and websites, make it EASY.” – General Surgery
- Ask friends and peers to review you
While some physician review sites only allow patients to engage, some review sites allow for many different types of people to weigh-in on your performance. For those platforms, asking peers who know your work to leave reviews can be an acceptable and effective option:
“Why don’t we have an reputation management hour at CME conferences, a Meet and Greet or Speed Dating, you exchange your card with five other physicians and when they go home after the conference they place five separate reviews for physicians whose five cards they received at the conference? When they placed a review they print it out and mail it back to the recipient physician and he in turn does the same and mails a copy so it is more than just the honor code.” – Anesthesiology
“Anybody on SERMO, feel free to private message me with their Ratemds.com link and I will be pleased to provide them with a rating. I only ask that they do the same for me.” – General Practice
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