Have you ever taken the time to Google yourself or your practice? What did you find? Was the information accurate? What would a patient conclude about
you, based on those Google results?
As more patients go online to find information about physicians, your reputation is being built and managed on the Internet. And like it or not, your
online reputation plays a role in acquiring new patients and maintaining trust with existing patients and colleagues. For this reason, physicians
should pay attention to online reputation management.
Online reputation management is the process of preventing and repairing threats to your online reputation. This is done by tracking what is written
about you and using techniques to address or moderate the information on search engine result pages or in social media. The goal is to promote positive
or neutral content while suppressing negative content.
For physicians, online reputation involves addressing information in three areas:
1. Information found on search engine results pages.
2. Information found in social media (LinkedIn, Facebook, blogs).
3. Information on rating sites, such as Vitals, HealthGrades, Rate MDs, Yelp, Angie's List.
Below are a few techniques for managing your online reputation.
Optimize your site for search engines.
This involves creating comprehensive and targeted meta tags and website page titles that help search engines index your site. More sophisticated
techniques include editing your site's content, HTML and associated coding; removing barriers to the indexing activities of search engines; increasing
inbound links; or purchasing related web addresses. Optimizing your site for search engines will ensure that anyone typing in your name or your
practice name will see your web site at the top of the search list.
Create your own blog.
You cannot control what other people say about you online, but you can create your own story and your own content. Your blog could be as simple as one
300-word post per week. The content could be about services you are offering to patients, the importance of getting a flu shot, or any other health
topic that is relevant to your patient base.
Create a LinkedIn profile.
Your LinkedIn profile is another aspect of your online presence that you create. Add information about where you went to school, your specialty, and
your practice. Make your profile public, and patients and potential patients can learn about you in a way you can control.
Identify your practice advocates.
As a way to create and promote positive content about your practice, call on your practice advocates. These advocates could be long-time patients,
family members of patients, or anyone who's ever written you a letter or sent you an email to say thank you. Once you've identified these advocates,
suggest that they post their comments on your blog, on your LinkedIn profile, or on physician rating sites.
Keep in mind that with the prevalence of smartphones and tablet PCs, patients can post a review of you—a positive or negative review—at anytime and
from anywhere. Even from your waiting room. Don't ignore what's being said.
Toyin Akinmusuru is the chief technology officer at Affynity Web Solutions. You can read more about
Affynity Web Solutions.