Doctors: Your Online Reputation is a Bigger Problem Than You Think

Online reputations have become a large part of our current society.

You can find reviews on everything online from restaurants to hotels to even my local Adult Detention Facility. So it is no surprise that a physician's online reputation is essential. While a recent study demonstrated that you should not Yelp your doctor, that does not stop patients from doing so. On top of that, sites like Facebook have collected information on me since 2004. What I posted 13 years ago does not represent me or anymore. A few easily searchable screw-ups and your online reputation are shot.

I am very hesitant about what I put on the web. I have asked the family not to tag me on any pictures. The same applies to my online accounts. In fact, I deleted all my online social accounts once I finished training and then restarted them. To me, no information is better than bad or quickly misinterpreted information.

For docs who have not maintained a low profile on the web, there are now companies that clear your online reputation.

Doctors: Your online reputation is a bigger problem than you think

In the past, patients relied on family and friends for doctor recommendations.

However, nowadays, people's lives are so technology-focused that a quick Google search will bring all the info they need on you and your practice. If you don't think the vast majority of your patients, colleagues, and acquaintances research your name online, you haven't caught up to the digital world.

With nearly 72% of your patients searching your name online, your online reputation matters now more than ever. Is that for better or for worse?

Note: It's not just your own reputation you must worry about, but also potentially the actions of your employes. Before an employee threatens to damage your online reputation, reach out to corporate investigation company Oberheiden P.C

Usually, it's for worse. Here's why.

Unfortunately, satisfied and happy patients usually aren't motivated enough to leave you an online review. Why would they bother going through the headache of doing so? However, if a patient feels their experience has been negative, they won't hesitate for a second to go online and leave you a scathing review. For this reason, no matter how good of a job you do, your online reputation will almost always lean towards the negative side.

Why is this a problem? Because prospective patients are very quickly swayed by what they read on the internet. Negative reviews can severely impact the number of patients you have walking through your doors. Even one or two less than perfect reviews can see prospective patients voting with their feet. And this may come as a huge surprise, but no doctor I've met wants a blank appointment schedule and a deserted practice, which are common causes of low morale and burnout in our profession.

(Ed. I often feel that when it comes to the patient satisfaction survey, providers deserve 1 Mulligan (i.e., second chance) per month. If there is a bad interaction, it is not always the provider's fault, and the provider should be able to recall that review).

Should you blame yourself for these negative reviews?

Not exactly. According to EverTrust MD, “Most negative reviews have almost nothing to do with the physician's diagnosis or treatment. Most negative reviews reflect the patient's frustration with a variety of issues, but very rarely is it something that the doctor had direct control over.”

Considering that EverTrust MD has helped hundreds of doctors fix their online reputation, this is a pretty good sign that most of the time, a negative review is probably not your direct fault.

Here's another reason not to beat yourself up too much. Aside from the selection bias mentioned earlier, physicians work long hours in, particularly stressful environments. You're tasked with a variety of patients and problems. The constant pressure in high-stakes situations makes it unlikely that every patient is to come away from your office full of joy.

An extremely crucial problem.

That being said, your online reputation is still extremely crucial to not only your current practice but to your long-term career as well. If prospective patients see less than glowing results about you online, they will quickly click away to search for a new doctor.

How much is each patient worth to you? Now multiply that by 5, 10, or even 50. Chances are your colleagues and acquaintances research your name online. What will they think of you? Your online reputation builds patient trust, establishes your credibility, generates appointments, fills up your schedule, and progresses your career in countless ways. If you don't have the most positive online reputation possible, you are robbing yourself every single day.

What do you guys think? Any experiences with negative online reviews of your practice? How did you handle it?

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I am Eiman Jahangir and I am a dad, husband, and cardiologist. I grew up in the South, trained in the Northeast, moved out West, and now am happily back home in the South. My wife and I have seen our fair share of ups and downs, from the pain of dealing with infertility and losing everything in a matter of hours in the Tubb’s  Wildfire, to the joys of having our son and finally finding a medical practice that is right for me. It hasn’t always been easy, but I am grateful and continue to move forward in positive steps.

I write to help people looking to improve their lives. I have written my thoughts and experiences on a wide arrange of topics from parenting to finances to mindfulness. While some of my posts are more useful for doctors and other high earners, most are for everyone.