Like customers in most other industries, patients are turning to the internet to learn about physicians before seeking treatment. The following tips will help your practice manage your physician’s online identity in order to maximize the benefit and reduce the risks associated with online information.
Social media is the most commonly used form of content sharing. If your practice and physicians have not joined in yet, now is the time. Facebook reaches over 1.2 billion users daily. That population is too big to ignore. Creating a Facebook business page is an easy way to participate in this online community. A Facebook business page gives your practice a homepage to list basic contact information, provide directions, and share articles online. Patients and other fans can like your page or check in when they visit, as well as leave reviews about their experiences. Those reviews are then pushed to various physician ratings sites. Facebook ranks very high in search engine results, meaning the more activity you have on Facebook, the easier it is for users to find your page through an online search.
Most businesses, including medical practices, have a website. These sites are a common destination for finding correct business listing information such as a phone number, address and provider names as well as medical content and other information. While websites are costly and time-consuming to establish and maintain, they serve as a credible source of online information, which can be controlled by the practice.
You can easily monitor your online presence by setting a schedule for reviewing your practice’s website and search engine results. This will help you ensure your information is accurate on an ongoing basis. You can also utilize listing management services from companies like Yext, which pulls all of your business listing information found on a long list of websites together in one place to compare the results.
Physician ratings sites are one online facet that is somewhat unique to the healthcare industry. Many practices are surprised to find their physicians have accounts on multiple ratings sites. Additionally, they are often unsure how the information got there.
Physician information is compiled on ratings sites in a variety of ways. For example, Heathgrades pulls information from physician licensing boards and creates a profile for each physician. This site also pushes physician information and ratings to other secondary ratings sites. Another popular ratings site is RateMDs. Physician accounts on this rating site are created by the patients. These independently generated profiles are where the surprises lie. The information from the licensing board could be out of date. Information provided by the patient could be incomplete or incorrect. However, most ratings sites will allow the physician to claim his or her own profile. By claiming the profile, you gain the ability to edit content and respond to comments and ratings.
A physician’s online identity is important because search engines are the new Yellow Pages. An online search yields much more than a phone number. Physicians need to know the information patients are using to make provider selections, so they can control the information as much as possible.
Georgina Perry, CPA, CMPE is a Healthcare Consultant, Kassouf & Co., P.C.
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