When patients are especially happy or particularly frustrated with their physician, they are increasingly likely to go online and tell the world about it. This user-generated content is one of the most valuable and also the most challenging aspects of the Internet. Read on to learn about the three main forms of online patient feedback, along with ideas for how to deal with it. Later, you can dig deeper with our one page quick reference guide, The Top 5 Online Reputation Management Tools for Physicians.
- Ratings and Reviews: These are generally found on directories, including general sites such as Google and Yelp and medical industry sites such as Healthgrades and Vitals. Whether attached to a medical practice or an individual physician, your ratings and reviews can make a drastic difference in whether or not a patient chooses you as their doctor. General sites tend to have a simple standard structure of a 1- to 5-star rating system with an open-ended review. Health directories tend to have a more detailed and complex structured system that rates providers on a number of different factors.
- Social Media Sites: Facebook and Twitter are the two main sites where patients submit feedback, but LinkedIn — which has the advantage of giving you a large degree of control over your “Recommendations” — and many others also contribute to the landscape. Facebook actually allows for reviews, and has joined Google and Yelp as one of the top-tier review sites for local businesses. Social media sites welcome less structured feedback by allowing people to post comments directly to a business or to simply tag a business whether or not that they have an active presence on the network.
- Blogs and Miscellaneous Websites: With over 100 million blogs now online, you never know which patient might have their own online following. Blog feedback is rarely a patient’s first response, but if someone is particularly frustrated (or happy, but this is less common), the situation can escalate from a review or social media comment into a full-blown blog post. A widely-read post can result in greater exposure, and in some cases online news publications will pick up the story and spread it far and wide.
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