Online Reputation Management (ORM) is on the minds of practice administrators and physicians across the country in practices of every size – and with good reason. So, when a notable healthcare marketing / social media guru publishes a book about it, you have to sit down and read it, right? And Establishing, Managing, and Protecting Your Online Reputation – a Social Media Guide for Physicians and Medical Practices by Kevin Pho, M.D., (otherwise known as @KevinMD on Twitter), is worth every second you can spend with it., Dr. Pho has been recognized as one of the top social media influencers in health care and medicine. Last year I was invited to speak on a panel about ORM by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), so I was very interested in what Dr. Pho had to say on the subject.

Once I got past the $64 price tag and the fact that, at the time, I had to purchase a hard copy because the eBook wasn’t available on Amazon, I was impressed with the breadth of information found in every chapter. This really is a comprehensive resource on all things social media and ORM. In fact, if for nothing more, I found the detailed summary citing the studies referenced throughout the book would more than make up for the price. As someone who works and speaks often on the topic, Dr. Pho has compiled a foremost list of reference material.

Social Media

In the book, Dr. Pho clearly outlines the case for getting into social media for the medical community and how active engagement through various channels, such as social and blogging, can play a significant role in controlling information. It discusses the changing landscape of healthcare and today’s modern patient.

Dr. Pho eloquently makes the case that it is not so much a matter of whether a physician wants to get online or not; but goes as far as implying that once online, there is an obligation to help educate the public. Through real-world examples and case studies provided by physicians throughout the country, Dr. Pho articulates the double-edged sword of today’s Google-driven patient and shows a path that physicians (and marketers) can take to addressing this and using it to their advantage.

While I found the beginning and end of the book to be most interesting, as these portions discussed the trend and established the case for physicians to go “all-in,” I can see where this book would be extremely helpful for the newbie just beginning to dip their toe into the online and social space. For example, there’s a chapter explaining how to set up a practice on Facebook, which takes all of the guesswork out if you’ve never done it before (just like our video tutorial here – *ahem*).

Physician Rating Sites

That said, Dr. Pho’s chapter on physician rating sites missed the boat a little for me personally. In his discussion on physician rating sites like HealthGrades and Vitals, Dr. Pho talks about an array of sites that physicians may want to monitor. What he fails to mention is that most of the sites on his list, well, don’t matter.

If a physician only has so much time in the day to focus on her reputation, then the key is to focus on what shows up when a patient searches. Sure, there are dozens of sites out there, but the only ones that matter are the ones people are looking at – just like social media sites. Yes, there are plenty to join, but you only can stretch your time and resources so far, so you would want to pick the ones where your patients are, right? The same applies to ORM websites.

The Verdict

The book is a great resource for those of us who deal with social media and ORM on a daily basis. Could some parts have been a little better? Yes, but the book covers a wide array of topics and has something for every skill level, presenting fact-driven statements in a clean, concise layout. I highly recommend the book if for nothing else than to brush up on your skills and to review the cited studies.