Anyone who says they don’t care about their reputation is either one of two things: Joan Jett or a liar.
Medical practices are some of the few organizations that cannot afford to let their reputation fall by the way side. When someone is choosing the practice that will be responsible for treating, caring, and possibly diagnosing them, they tend to be picky about who they choose.
That is why, in order to attract a steady flow of patients, medical practices need to take an active role in preserving their online reputation. They can do this by focusing on three major areas where their reputation is vulnerable.
Healthcare Site Profiles
There are websites that cater to people looking for the right physician for themselves and their family; it’s here that your practice needs to pay close attention to the information attributed to your name.
Like your name.
Basic information like this needs to be up-to-date. Names, photographs, philosophy, and whether or not you are taking new patients should always be accurate or you run the risk of misrepresenting your practice or yourself.
Photos should be professional and of good quality, and your personal philosophy should make sense to the average patient.
Insurance information should also always be accurate, have your staff regularly check to see if the right carriers and plans are listed on your profile.
Sites like ZocDoc, Vitas, and Healthgrades provide even more extensive information to those who visit your profile. Here is where you can expand on your expertise and make mention of the procedures and fields you specialize in.
Medical practices serve as prime targets for cyberattacks, in fact a recent survey of 1,300 physicians found that 83% had experienced some sort of cyberattack.
Healthcare related industries are attractive for criminals since they usually deal with tons of personal information pertaining to their patients. If any of that information were to get out, it could mean bad news for your practice. Cyber criminals know this, so they will attempt to hold a practice ransom until their demands are met.
You can take steps to protect your practice from cyber attacks by constantly updating passwords, never sharing login information with one another, utilizing cloud software, and creating backups of important files.
Probably the most vulnerable place for your reputation to be damaged is your practice’s social media page. If your practice does not have a social media presence, then you are already opening yourself up to damage. You need to own your social media presence, that way no one else but you and your practice can define the service you give.
It’s also in your best interest to look for any mentions of your practice in other people’s Tweets, statuses, or posts. If you encounter something that makes your practice look bad, kindly address the issue in a public response. Many times, people just want to be heard. Staying in communication with them makes them feel good about not only themselves, but about your practice as well.
This is the ultimate goal of any establishment that chooses to be in the public eye: to look good and have a positive reputation among the members of the community it serves.
The term “burnout” brings to mind the image of a flame slowly losing its brightness, growing smaller until there’s only smoke where fire used to be. There is a flame that lives inside all of us, it motivates and inspires us to work for what we want in life. Like a flame, elements put stress upon it and eventually put it out. Employees experience burnout when the stress of the job combines with personal issues and causes an overall dissatisfaction with the current situation. This can result in something as little as an argument or drastic as an abrupt resignation.
If you would like to keep that inner flame in your employees alive and bright, your leadership team should keep these tips in mind.
Your employees need recognition, they need to feel as if they are a valued member of your practice. Employees who feel disconnected do just that, they disconnect. You will begin to see signs of this in the way they speak to fellow staff or patients, and a sense of frustration and tension will always be evident. Establish regular employee recognition initiatives and awards, this will encourage friendly competition among your staff and motivate them to stay onboard.
Recognition does not by any means have to be formal, it can be as simple as saying “good job” spontaneously to your employees. This goes a long way with people, especially when they aren’t expecting it.
Build a Better Break Room
Your break room should be a place where staff can wind down, eat, and prepare for the next half of their shift. Give employees options when it comes to snacks and refreshments, offering alternatives to the cafeteria.
You can also bring food into work as an act of appreciation – no one turns down free cake. No one normal, at least.
Provide More Time Off
Many a relationship has benefited from both parties agreeing on a break, only becoming stronger in the end. The same can also be said of professional relationships; when employees get the room to breathe, they are able to look at their employment situation from an objective standpoint.
In the end they may think, “it’s not so bad,” and come back to work with a positive and relaxed energy.
Open lines of communication to ensure that there is nothing being withheld from you or your staff. If your employees are feeling burnt out, they should be able to talk to you about it. Let your staff know that you care about their well-being and want to be notified if they ever feel overwhelmed.
This is the easiest and first thing you should do if you suspect members of your staff are on the verge of burnout. Preemptively speaking to an employee about how they’re feeling can be the difference between developing staff who simply deal with their job and those who love their job.
Think about the last time you went to a store or restaurant and had terrible service. You probably walked out of the place in a bad mood, vowed never to return, and then ripped the company on Twitter once you got home.
While that last one sounds a bit extreme, it happens pretty frequently in today’s world. A company’s reputation is constantly at risk of being taken down by its own reputation, whether that be a ride that kept breaking down or a burger that wasn’t fully cooked, people will know when someone has dropped the ball.
It’s the same for those working in the medical profession, except you don’t run the risk of burning someone’s food or telling kids they’re not tall enough to ride.
You’re dealing with people’s lives.
Customer service plays an important role in many aspects of a medical practice’s day-to-day operations. Whether it’s the moment a patient walks through the door, or when placing a call to confirm appointments, the amount of effort you put toward the customer experience says a lot about the care you provide. You want patients to feel good about upcoming appointments or like they have someone on their team on a day that could be very trying for them.
When medical practices fail to meet these levels of service, they reinforce the popular misconception that doctors want patients in and out of their offices quickly or that hospitals only wish to make money off patients any way they can. As with any organization today, your practice’s reputation is then at risk, and it only takes a few bad reviews of your services posted online to start making some serious dents. Yearly discussions about funding, budgets, and staffing will be marred by talks of miscommunication, inefficient follow-up procedures, and high-profile incidents. When these issues become constant, it’s bad news for that medical practice.
Healthcare is not free, it’s an agreement between the provider and patient. People are paying for the care you provide. If we think of care as a product, then even the most basic knowledge of sales will tell us that demonstrating the “value” of that product is what will keep patients coming back time and again. This idea that patients will show up anyway doesn’t hold water when you consider the general population’s attitude towards health insurance and the cost of care. People will live in pain or let a condition go untreated because they simply do not like the hospital or feel like the bills would be worse than their current situation. Hospitals attempting to collect payments are sent to voicemail daily since patients don’t want to talk about their situation or feel as though there’s nothing that can be done on the other end.
When your patients are faced with a decision to make an appointment or go to the hospital you want their faith in you to outweigh any costs or reservations they have about receiving your care. This is where your practice can excel, in comforting the minds of current, past, and future patients.
Let’s consider today’s average consumer: when shopping for something they would like, let’s say for instance a television, they first conduct a bit of research. This involves checking prices online, reading product reviews, and watching YouTube videos about the TV they’re considering buying.
If that same consumer is in the market for something a little more important, like a new physician, you can be sure they’re going to conduct the same amount of, if not more, research. That’s why maintaining a good presence on review sites and social media pages is essential to running a successful practice. It’s not difficult to stay on top of reviews and profiles but more a matter of keeping up-to-date information posted.
This is especially important for websites that specialize in physician and hospital reviews.
Examples of these sites are:
On these websites, you will have to provide current information since many potential patients may be totally unfamiliar with your practice. This means you risk seriously misrepresenting your practice if you don’t always have accurate information posted.
Your basic information like your name, photo (if allowed), and education is the first thing patients will see. When choosing a photo, make sure it’s professional and of good quality.
You need to also give specifics about your practice, since this is what most patients will care the most about when choosing a physician.
Information you will be asked for includes
- Whether or not you’re accepting new patients
- Field of expertise
- Care philosophy
- Affiliated hospitals
- Accepted insurance carriers and plans
That last one is especially important, since the health insurance landscape can be tricky for many patients – you want to help any way you can in giving them their options.
Getting patients into your office is only half the battle when it comes to maintaining an online reputation, it’s what happens after that can really harm a practice.
That’s because social media has given everyone a voice, and unfortunately that voice is sometimes not very happy.
Social media outlets where physician reviews can be seen include
If you encounter nasty or unflattering reviews, first do your research and find out the back story for the situation. Next, address the issue publicly in a professional and apologetic response. If, however, you are being tarnished without reason, take the steps necessary to remove the review according to the platform’s policies.
As long as physicians or their practices have not misrepresented themselves, and they take the time to respond to reviews in the appropriate manner, this shouldn’t be an issue. The main concern for physicians and the practices they represent should be maintaining an image of trustworthiness and care in their presentation online.