The internet has been a wonderful tool used by many to obtain information. It has made the Yellow Pages and the Encyclopedia obsolete. With such easy access, ordinary people can now blog, post, and review about anything. This whole concept of Social Media allows people to become influencers of opinions. It can be very empowering for some. Unfortunately, it can also become a destructive nightmare for others.
As Physicians, we try hard to provide the best care for our patients. But many do not understand that our tested knowledge and efforts allow us to make appropriate decisions about the treatments within a short period of interaction. Some patients mistake that competent decisive decision as a cavalier one. Often times we do hear “how could he make that judgement, he only saw me for 10 minutes”. That statement might be right if the judgement is made by a first year medical student, or if the decision is about a major issue such as changing of a chemotherapy regimen. Usually, however, that quick decision is made considering the vast knowledge of the situation. That so called “Blink” decision encompasses years of training, patient care, and competence. The decision is not made without attention to detail. The patient however, does not know that. Because of that, the patient perceive incompetence, and goes to Social Media to tell everyone about it. Thus the origin of the bad Internet Review. Unfortunately, that one Bad review can snowball into more bad reviews, and Physician Practices have been destroyed by these reviews.
In the past few years, there has been an explosion of Online Review Sites. There has been a burgeoning industry of Physician Review Sites. Remember that each of these sites are made to ultimately monetize the site. A few of these sites are struggling to become the Go To Review Site. Once they establish dominance, Providers are compelled to subscribe to some of the services attached. Unfortunately, there is a bidding war to establish a better relationship with those sites. That better relationship means better online exposure.
I have never subscribed to any of the services, but I know others have, and thus achieved a preferred Physician status for certain criteria. Physicians need to understand that future patients do look at those sites. Physicians need to understand that is what is happening with the sites. Physicians need to understand that those bad reviews can hurt their practice. Physicians should know that they can control some of the bad reviews by engaging their patients, providing great patient care, and understand that the medical services still is a consumer driven experience.
Doctor, please review your online reputation. If there seems to be a recurring theme, please explore the reason for the repeating bad comments. Use the reviews as a feedback mechanism. Great reviews make us feel good about our practice, but does not change our behavior. Bad reviews can be an opportunity to make changes that improve the patient experience.
On the other hand, a few of us are victims of a disgruntled patient, staff member, or competitor. If that is happening, you will likely need some professional help to mitigate the damages. Look at your Reviews. Make sure the reviews are legitimate. Either way, please act.