Online Reputation Management or ORM is the practice of attempting to shape public perception of a person or organization by influencing online information about said entity.
For busy medical practices, the task of actively monitoring public directories and discussions about your practice and physicians can be a daunting task. Staying on top of your online reputation allows you to quickly react when there is an issue, such as a negative review from a disgruntled patient or past employee. With so many websites where patients can leave a review about their experience, where do you begin? Today we take a look at UCompareHealthcare.com (UCHC) and how you can manage your information on this particular physician review website.
To determine the process for verifying information about your practice and physicians on UCompareHealthcare. To better understand the process for responding to public reviews and dispute resolution.
What is UCompareHealthcare?
Founded in 2005, UCHC is one of the top five medical directories online with roughly 1.92 million monthly visitors. UCHC is owned by MDx Medical, which also owns Vitals.com. The website allows patients to compare physicians within the same specialty and geographic area side-by-side. UCHC provides dynamic web-based interactive tools for consumers, enabling them to measure the quality of healthcare services available.
With more than 15 million monthly visitors on the top physician rating websites like Healthgrades, Vitals and UCompareHealthcare, it is now necessary for physicians and practice managers to proactively manage online physician profiles, directory listings and patient reviews.
How Does UCompareHealthcare Work?
When accessing UCHC, visitors are prompted to search either a physician’s names or a specific specialty in their geographic area.
Say, for example, a patient was looking for an otolaryngologist (an ear, nose, and throat specialist). By searching otolaryngology, a patient is provided a list of physicians with that specialty near them. This specific search produced 49 results of physicians in the area with an otolaryngologic specialty.
Can We Claim Our Physicians’ Profiles?
Yes, many of the rating sites allow physicians to claim their profiles. This enables you to update your contact information, picture, and educational background. This also lets you respond to patients when they leave reviews.
For the sake of this example, we have gone through the steps necessary to update a practice profile.
On UCHC, while there did not appear to be an immediate option to update directory listings as is the case with most other reputation sites, we were able to locate a ‘Contact Us’ option after several clicks. It is located at the bottom of the webpage by clicking the ‘About Us’ option which then takes you to a page with a ‘Contact Us’ option.
The ‘Contact Us’ page includes an email, an address, as well as a link for physicians and office managers to update information.
Naturally, we clicked the option to update our information. However, this ended up sending us in circles and you never actually get to claim your profile, but just ‘request’ edits. In order to do this for free, we chose the “Edit Basic Profile” option.
This is where we ran into an issue. When you choose the “Edit Basic Profile” option it takes you to a screen to look up your doctor by name and state. Once we found our physician, we signed up for a free account and input the correct information, then clicked “Submit”. You are able to review the changes you made and they are sent in as ‘Suggestions’.
After submitting the information, we received a receipt number and were told that UCHC staff will review our requested changes at their “earliest possible convenience.” Nothing was saved to our account and we did not have any provider roster or list like we do on other reputation sites like Vitals or Healthgrades.
UCHC does suggest, however, upgrading your current free profile to a new Patient Gateway Physician Profile which allows you ownership over your profile. However, when we inquired about the cost of upgrading, we were told: “Unfortunately we are no longer offering our featured listing solution to new providers on UCompareHealthCare. We apologize we could not accommodate your request.”
What Are Our Options?
Now it feels as though we wasted time updating information that may or may not be implemented on this directory listing website. In an effort to better understand what options UCHC offers to physicians and practice managers, we reached out to the email provided on the ‘Contact Us’ page.
Here is our question and the response we received:
Question: “I am trying to claim and manage profiles for several physicians that I represent. However when I search for the doctor and then click edit profile, the system sends me in circles to search again, but not actually allowing me to register. Is there another way to register so we can gain ownership of our information?”
Response: “Thank you for contacting UCompareHealthCare. Due to a recent significant database system upgrade, our users are temporarily locked out of the ability to update their information online. Our site engineers are working to correct the issue. If you would like, you may forward me the updates needed to make your profile current and our customer care team will make the changes for you.”
Unfortunately, with so many physicians and so much information to update, UCHC is not able to update such a large volume of information through their customer service team.
However, if you find a review that is defamatory or untrue, you can reach out to the customer care email and they may be able to suppress the review so it does not affect your physician’s score. We were able to have them do this for us on a specific physician we work with.
Since UCHC no longer offers an account upgrade, your best option is to create a free account and individually update your physician’s information. You will need to follow up with customer service to ensure your changes are made. As always, making connections with people who work at these reputation sites is the quickest, easiest and best way to get changes made fast. When you email their customer service you will be given a name. Save their name and email to ensure you speak with the same person each time who knows you and your practice.
A Growth Industry with a Lot of Growing to Do
It’s no secret that your online reputation is becoming more of a priority.
- A recent study found 41 percent of people said social media affect their choice of a specific doctor, hospital or medical facility, according to Demi & Cooper Advertising and DC Interactive Group.
- BrightLocal found 79 percent of consumers place equal weight on both online reviews and recommendations.
- Reviewing a doctor/dentist (35 percent of reviews) is the third most common review activity following restaurants and hotels according to Yelp.
While consumers are becoming more savvy about online reviews in general, it appears that the online directory services are still experiencing growing pains. While necessary to get it right, these growing pains are detrimental at the expense of physicians who do not ask to be included in these online review websites and cannot be removed from them. This is something that needs to change. Until then, however, your practice and your doctors are on these websites and there’s nothing you can do about it.
Even though the online reputation management space may seem like the Wild West, there are a few rules (believe it or not) and best practices to wrangle your rep. So, let’s slowly remove your head from the sand and review a few of our favorite easy-to-follow resources: