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    When was the last time you reviewed online ratings and social media sites to find out what people are saying about your practice? 

    A recent MGMA Stat poll asked, “Does your practice manage its online reputation (e.g., review sites, social media)?” The majority (67%) of respondents indicated that their practice does, one-quarter said their practice does not, and the remaining 7% were unsure. 

    In this age of online information, transparency and an ever-increasing trend of consumerism in healthcare, patients make choices based on information, and the easiest information for them to find is just a Google search away. Managing your practice’s online reputation is a critical component of your business plan.

    The statistics bear this out:

    • A recent survey conducted by Binary Fountain, a company providing healthcare-focused online platforms for healthcare facilities, indicated that:
      • 75% of healthcare consumers say online ratings and reviews influence their decision when selecting a physician or provider.
    • A 2016 survey by Software Advice found:
      • 82% of patients surveyed used reviews to evaluate physicians
      • 77% of consumers search for a provider online before making an appointment
      • 48% of respondents would go out of network for a doctor with favorable reviews
    • A BrightLocal 2017 US-based consumer review survey found:
      • 85% of consumers trust an online review as much as a personal recommendation
      • 47% would consider going out of network for a doctor with more favorable reviews

    Managing your online reputation is an ongoing process. Here are some tips for crafting an online reputation management plan:

    1. Google your practice’s name. Then, try different variations of the name and review and document what you find. On what sites does your practice appear and what information do you see? Is it accurate?
    2. Google your physicians and other providers. Follow the same process outlined above.
    3. Monitor, track and document how your practice ranks on various sites over time. Consider conducting these audits on a quarterly basis.
    4. Search for “doctors near me” in your specialty and see where your practice and providers rank. Track this over time. 
    5. Note “bad” reviews and comments. Do not remove them. Respond in a professional, non-defensive way. Thank the reviewer, offer to speak to him or her personally to gain additional insight and assist in resolving issues.
    6. Use “bad” reviews as a learning opportunity. Step back, think about the underlying intent of the bad review and learn from it. What can you teach the staff to prevent this from happening again?
    7. If your practice is on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or other platforms, ensure your social media content is updated on a regular basis. Produce content that is relevant, carefully curated and helpful to your patients.

    Managing your online presence is an important part of your practice development efforts. After all, you want your online reputation to be as stellar as your practice’s clinical care and customer service. To do so, incorporate the tips mentioned above in your planning, and allocate the necessary resources, whether it’s time, personnel or money.

    Additional resources:

    Kenneth T. Hertz, FACMPE

    MGMA Consulting

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