improve online reputation management

When choosing a new physician, three out of four patients now turn to patient reviews as their first step, according to research from Software AdviceAnd the number is growing.

Effectively managing and claiming your online reputation is more important than ever and can often be the difference-maker when a prospective patient has to decide between your practice and the one down the street.

In this week’s podcast episode, Jennifer and Corey share 25 tips to help you improve online reputation management and take control of your ORM destiny to attract new patients and retain the ones you have.

Tune in to Discover:

  • How to take control of your reputation online
  • Small things you can do right now to claim your profile on the most prominent health review sites
  • How to effectively handle negative reviews and respond to positive reviews
  • Ways to track and monitor your progress

If you sense a trend in our recent podcasts, you’re bang on. They form part of our most recent article featured on Referral MD, the nation’s online leader in healthcare systems optimization and communication.

We share the Top 110 Ways to Market Your Medical Practice and Get More Patients. You can read it right here:

Transcription Notes:

Corey:                     All right. Hey, everybody and welcome to the Dr Marketing Tips podcast. I’m Corey.

Danielle:               And I’m Danielle.

Corey:                     And today, we’re going to talk to you about our favorite three letter acronym, WTF.

Danielle:               No Corey, we’re talking about our second favorite acronym, which is ORM.

Corey:                     I was close.

Danielle:               Yes, online reputation management, which we preach about all the time.

Corey:                     Yeah, so what we’re going to do is we’re going to run down a list of the top 25 things you need to do to set up your online reputation management plan and how to report on that stuff. We’re going to go kind of quick. But, these are actionable items that you can take to kind of get your ORM under control.

Danielle:               Yeah, so get that pen and paper ready to take your notes.

Corey:                     All right, so number one.

Danielle:               Number one, first step. You need to create an inventory of where you even stand in the first place, and it’s one of the scariest things to google yourself, or google your physician name, your office name, see what comes up. Is your address correct? Is your phone number correct? What star rating do you currently have? When people search you, are you coming up as a one-star practice with crazy reviews that people hate you. It’s good stuff to know. So, step number one, create an inventory of where you stand and what people see when they search for you.

Corey:                     And on your inventory, what would you say needs to be there? Obviously, the names of all the physicians, their ratings, the big sites, and what else? Phone number.

Danielle:               Yeah, phone number, address, office hours, specialty, education, sometimes even date of birth. All these things are things that you need to verify your physician.

Corey:                     So, basically if you go to a Health Grades or Rate MD’s and they have something listed for your physician, just put it on it a spreadsheet.

Danielle:               Right.

Corey:                     Right and just sort it out later.

Danielle:               Yep.

Corey:                     Okay, just so you can get started.

Danielle:               Yeah, and I realize by saying birthday, I was starting to go into step number two.

Corey:                     Oh, exciting.

Danielle:               So, once you know where you stand, you have to gather all the information of your physicians to be able to claim them online and that’s … I’m getting all these step’s kind of flow together. So, the information that you’re going to need is NPI numbers, birthdays, medical license number, DEA number, and sometimes …

Corey:                     Don’t you need a piece of mail for some of them?

Danielle:               Yes, a piece of mail of the office. This helps verify the address. Sometimes you even need a photocopy of their driver’s license. That’s specifically for Rate MD’s. So, start getting all that information together so you have it when you go into these websites.

Corey:                     We actually have a kind of like a bulleted list of all of this stuff, so if you’re interested in that, just reach out to us on twitter at Dr Marketing Tips or contact us through the website.

Danielle:               Yeah.

Corey:                     Or, actually call us if you want to use a phone, you know any of that stuff and we’ll get you that list.

Danielle:               Yes. And so now going into step number three. We usually say to focus on the bigger sites. In step number one when you do the inventory, it can kind of be overwhelming.

Corey:                     Yeah, there’s like 70 plus of [inaudible 00:04:36].

Danielle:               To see all the number of sites that your physicians and practice locations show up on, but we always say to focus on the biggest sites, Google, Health Grades, Rate MD’s, Yelp, and Vitals. These typically show up on the first page of Google, usually within the first five to ten results.

Corey:                     Yeah, that’s why we say those are the big ones because if someone is searching for you, those are the sites that are going to show up and kind of sway them. So, if they’re looking for an ophthalmologist in your area, these results are going to show up with the stars and the ratings, so that’s what we care about. If there’s some rinky-dink site that shows up on, you know, the third page of Google, honestly, it doesn’t matter what it says.

Corey:                     Eventually, you want to get to that site and claim and make sure everything’s correct, but if you’re going to devote your attention anywhere, focus on Google, Health Grades, Rate MD’s, Yelp, Vitals, Facebook.

Danielle:               Yeah, and a couple side notes on that is of course Google loves Google, so whenever you search a business name the business will show up kind of on the right-hand side with the other search results, so you’ll automatically see the Google rating. And then, separately about the reason that we focus on the big sites is that a lot of those rinky-dink sites pull from the bigger sites. So, if you get it right on the big sites, it’ll eventually trickle down to those sites that nobody goes to.

Corey:                     Makes sense.

Danielle:               So, going into number four. So, now that you know where you stand, you have all your information, and you’re focusing on the bigger sites, you’ll kind of want an action plan of why are you doing this is in the first place?

Corey:                     An action plan, it sounds like something that has to be like intense and hard, but it’s really not. It can be a sticky note and you just say, “I’m going to claim these by next Wednesday.” And just put that on top of your to-do pile and make sure that it gets done. It doesn’t have to be some involved 12 step thing that’s going to take, you know, over multiple months. I mean, if you want to do that, great, but you don’t have to do that. Just get started.

Corey:                     But, have some sort of plan written down because then you’re more likely to do it. And I would add to that and say you want to start to set goals. So, even if your goal is by the end of the quarter, I want to have my inventory done. And then the next quarter is I’m going to gather up all my information. You’re taking a really long time to do it that way, but if that’s what it takes to actually set measurable goals and you just kind of bite them off in small chunks, you’re more than likely to get it done. So, write it down, set a goal, set a timeline, put it on your calendar, and you know, whatever it takes. Set reminders. However, you have to do it, just take small actionable steps towards getting this done.

Danielle:               Yeah. There’s some sort of saying. I can’t think of it, but if like a goal is a … if you set a goal then you’re more likely to actually do it. So, setting goals is very important. So, the next handful of tips kind of all generally happen in the same time. So, once you have all your information and you know which websites you need to be claimed on, you go … this is step number five. You claim your profiles. So, we have information on our website for how to claim on the various sites. They all have different processes.

Corey:                     Yeah, the reason we’re not going to share that here is because every website is different. This is not easy and there’s no like right or wrong way to do it. So, every site says, “Well, I’m going to do it this.” And another site says, “Well, that way is stupid. I’m going to do it this way.”

Danielle:               Yeah, so like I said we have that information on our website. Each website has a different way that you claim. So, step number five is claim your profiles. You’ll figure it out as you go. Step number six, update your photos. We know your doctor has a picture from the 80’s with his cool glasses and bad haircut, but it’s time to update that.

Danielle:               Update your address is tip number seven. Number eight, update your phone number. If people find you, and they try to call you and then they’re calling like the Pizza Hut next door and not you, then that’s a problem. Tip number nine. Did I skip one? No. Number nine is update your office hours. I told you they all happen at once, boom, boom, boom, boom. So, phone number, office hours.

Danielle:               Number ten is education. A lot of these websites have where you put your undergrad, your medical school, your internship, and residencies, so make sure you have all that information. Most of the time, we get that information from a physician CV and just kind of put it in there.

Danielle:               Tip number 11 is update the specialties and procedures.

Corey:                     Yeah, we see all the time where if you know, someone’s like a … they’re an interventional pain management specialist, but on Rate MD’s they’re listed as a Chiropractor and so, obviously if someone is searching for you and the taxonomy is wrong, then you’re not going to come up in the search. They don’t even know you exist.

Danielle:               Yeah, and another thing, even with specialties like orthopedics, if the physician is just listed as orthopedic, it’ll pull everything that could be related to orthopedics. So, if one of your physicians is a hand specialist, obviously you don’t want, you know, a spinal procedure showing up on the procedures that he or she does. So, it’s important to go through and fix all those things how they need to be.

Danielle:               Tip number 12 is update the bio. Most all these websites have a bio section where you can just pull your physician’s bio from the website, or from their CV, and that helps with SEO when people are searching for your physician, as well.

Corey:                     And if you can, sometimes the websites won’t allow, but if you can stick your web address in the bio, then we recommend doing that because it’s just another avenue to kind of drive some organic search traffic back to your website.

Danielle:               Yeah, and some of the websites do have a website …

Corey:                     Field.

Danielle:               … field that you can … it’s usually near where the address or phone number is, but some don’t. Tip 13 is confirm that you’re accepting new patients. This applies to the physician-related websites. So, Health Grades, Rate MD’s, and Vitals, not necessarily on Google or Yelp, but the three that are medical related will give you a little checkbox that say yes or no that you’re accepting new patients. And obviously, if you’re accepting new patients, you say yes because on the patient’s side of a lot of those search fields, it’ll only pull up physician’s that are accepting new patients when somebody’s looking for a physician.

Corey:                     That’s an easy one to miss.

Danielle:               So, yeah. Make sure you check that yes, you’re accepting new patients. Tip number 14 is establish connections. So, over the last couple of years that I’ve really dived deep into [inaudible 00:11:02], I’ve made contacts at Google, and Health Grades, and Rate MD’s, and Yelp, and Vitals, that where I can email them directly and not necessarily always have to go to the customer support box. Some of them I still do, like the bigger one like Google. Sometimes you just got to dig until you finally get to somebody. But, it’s important to establish an actual name at each of those places to help you when you kind of run into an issue you can’t fix from the dashboard.

Danielle:               Tip number 15 is crafting positive review responses and tip number 16 is crafting negative review responses. So, once you have your profiles claimed, you’ll have the ability to respond to reviews that you get. So, you’ll want to have a few responses kind of handy, ready to go.

Corey:                     And you want to respond to positives and negatives. And the reason that all of this matters is that today, more than 72% of Americans begin their search for your services online. So, they’re looking for you this way, and that number’s only going to go up, so by doing this you’re getting ahead of the competition. But, it matters to craft and have these responses ready because if someone complains and they leave a negative review, you want to respond as soon as possible because like we said, the 72% of people that are going to be looking and they see that you were responsive and you’re trying to take care of this problem, well that positions you as compassionate, and that you’re listening, and you actively, you know, you’re going out of your way to care about these patients.

Corey:                     And same thing with a positive review. It shows that you’re listening and that you really appreciate them. So, you want to have those ready to go, so as soon as it comes up, you’re off to the races.

Danielle:               Yeah, something that we … I don’t know if we heard it from somewhere, but we say it all the time that no response is a response. So, if somebody left a nasty comment and you don’t respond, you’re just kind of accepting that comment for what it is.

Corey:                     Yeah.

Danielle:               So, that kind of goes into number 17 is to have a plan in place to respond to the reviews, whether it’s you, or somebody else in your office that is logging into the sites that you claimed, to go and post those responses.

Corey:                     Well, that sounds like tip 18.

Danielle:               Yeah, tip 18. They all flow together. It’s a streamlined process. So, tip 18 is to designate someone in the office to contact the patient if a negative one arises. So, with a lot of our clients, we, you know, work directly with some of the office managers or patient care coordinators, and we let them know that a negative review came through and a lot of times they’re able to call the patient and fix the issue. And sometimes the patient will go back and remove the review. Other times, they’re like, “Nope, still hate you.” And we post our response.

Corey:                     Or, we have this really cool thing that we can do where if a patient is they’re prompted to leave a review, and so, if they had a good experience, great, then they can do that. But, if they have a negative one, we try and catch that with like a filtered report before it actually gets out and into the open. So, if they say that they had a bad experience, they get a little dialogue box and they can say, “Oh, Becky at the front desk was really rude.” And then we’ll forward that over to the admin team and they can have a little chat with Becky. And it works from an HR standpoint and from a motivational standpoint without actually going in and posting and showing up as a one star on Google, for example, so.

Danielle:               Yeah.

Corey:                     So, having a plan in place and having someone that is going to reach out, not only to the patient, but to whoever it is on the staff as well, because a lot of times the care that they’re receiving from the provider, they’re happy with that. It’s everything around it. It’s oh, the billing department didn’t have their act together. Or, the MA was rude, or whatever the case may be, so it’s good to have the contacts in place, again, so that positive or negative you can respond as quickly as possible.

Danielle:               Yeah, and then so that all leads up to tip number 19 is actually posting the responses. So, you craft the responses, have a plan in place, know the people who are going to be responsible for what, and actually going in and posting the response publicly from your user dashboard.

Danielle:               Tip number 20 is to monitor your ratings. So, now that you kind of have it all set up, what I do I have a spreadsheet of all the physicians and all the websites and what they’re rating is on those specific sites, and I just keep that updated every month and go in and monitor if a physician is kind of doing poorly where he or she may need more reviews or more help.

Danielle:               And that kind of leads into tip number 21 where we’ll try to identify patients that are happy and invite them to leave reviews where we know that the physician may need some help. And number 22, we take those amazing positive reviews that patients leave because that’s just free amazing marketing for your practice, and we use it on the website and on social media so, people who maybe don’t go to Rate MD’s or Vitals can see the amazing things that people are saying about your practice.

Corey:                     It’s kind of like the Yelp effect. You know, like on your marketing material you can say that you have the latest technology or the most state of the art, you provide compassionate, comprehensive care, blah, blah, blah, blah, and nobody believes you because you’re business and you’re trying to get them to become a patron of your business, but if a random stranger says you have really good care, for whatever reason, we just tend to trust them, just like Yelp. If they say that place has really good tacos, well I don’t know who Bob is, but he said those tacos are great, so I’m going to go get some taco.

Danielle:               Yep. So, yeah using those positive reviews to your advantage is really important because as Corey said, of course you’re going to say that you’re great, but when other people say that you’re great, it holds a little bit more weight.

Corey:                     Yeah, we call that social proof and it really does make a huge huge difference. If you’re not doing that, that’s one of the things that you need to be doing is using these reviews that are placed in public domains to your advantage.

Danielle:               Yep. So, going into tip number 23 is conducting ongoing monitoring to make sure that your information stays accurate, so all that hard work you did in steps five through 12, 13, you just need to make sure that it stays accurate. Unfortunately, there’s all these databases, and crazy algorithms that update randomly. Sometimes it’s like a quarterly thing or yearly thing, and all of a sudden, an address changes or a phone number changes and you have to go back and fix it, so.

Corey:                     So, if your action plan is on a sticky note, just add another little bullet to it that says, “Check on this next quarter.”

Danielle:               Yes, so it’s an ongoing thing. It’s not, you know, you set it up and then forget about it. You just have to constantly monitor where you stand online.

Corey:                     Fun.

Danielle:               Yes. Never ending. Tip number 24 is to measure your progress. So obviously, you had the starting point that you found at the beginning. You know, kind of where your doctors and office location stood online. So, it’s important to measure your progress to see that your handwork is paying off.

Corey:                     And hopefully, you’re trending in the right direction because we’ve seen it where you can trend in the wrong direction and it’s important to know those things.

Danielle:               Yes. And tip number 25 is to report on the progress to your key stakeholders, to your physicians when you have your quarterly or monthly meetings, whatever the process is in your office, but it’s important to show them why it’s important because sometimes it’s a hard sell on physicians that, you know, what people are saying about them online is really important, especially nowadays. So, showing them the numbers is really important.

Corey:                     Yeah, so if you have a doctor and ten people say that he’s too short with them, then you can go to him and say, “Hey, look. We know that you’re busy, but this is a consistent complaint.” And then so rather than you just saying it subjectively, you can provide real data and say, “This is what people are saying and your rating, your review, your overall score, is kind of bringing us all down, so get your act together, buddy.”

Corey:                     Okay, so that was our 25 tips. And now, because you made it all the way to the end, so thank you for listening all the way through that. We do appreciate that. We have a bonus tip for you. We know that this is a lot of work and it can be overwhelming. Danielle, just for let’s say an average client that we have, let’s say there’s five or six doctors, how much time do you spend a week doing it for their practice? What would you say?

Danielle:               Maybe five to ten hours.

Corey:                     Okay, so I don’t know about you, but I don’t have that extra time. So, bonus tip is find a partner that can automate some of this stuff and then can let you know where you stand. They can help post responses. They’ll alert you when something new comes in. There’s a ton of different software providers out there. If you just google it, you’ll find some. We have some that we work with that we recommend, and we get a deal with because we’re an agency and all that fun stuff.

Corey:                     So, if you’re interested about that, let us know and we can try and guide you in the right direction, so you don’t have to do it yourself because I’ve seen what Danielle has to go through and how hard she works to make sure all this stuff is correct for all of our practices. And it’s a lot of work, so.

Danielle:               Yes.

Corey:                     But, it can be done.

Danielle:               Yeah, you have a starting point with these 25 tips for sure.

Corey:                     Absolutely, so again, thank you guys for listening and I’m going to go get some tacos.

Danielle:               Me too. Let’s go.

Corey:                     All right.

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