Online Doctor Reviews – Fact or Fiction? You be the Judge

Social Media has taken the internet by storm. People are staying more connected and having access to all kinds of new information now more so than ever.  Instead of finding a restaurant, doctor, or any other product or service and blindly trying it, people go online and research the business to see what kinds of experiences other people have with it.  It’s not so much word of mouth anymore, but more so “word of fingers” that can make or break a business.

Google, Amazon, Yelp, Citysearch, and many others provide the platform for such experiences and reviews to be posted, and these can act as huge determining factors as to whether or not people will actually visit that establishment or buy the product.  One would think that people would be more willing to post negative reviews or experiences about a business to let it be known to avoid that place, thus causing a downturn in business. It’s a way for them to get back or even after being wronged themselves.

The popularity of online reviews and review sites has created a new market entirely on it’s own. Now there are people you can hire (for cheap) to go online and post glowing reviews about your business.  Giving away products or offering discounts can also incentivize people to post positive reviews.  Anybody can go online and post reviews of products, even if they haven’t even tried it. So who’s to say what’s real and what’s not?

Partially a grey area, it is hard to say what exactly is true and what is not on the internet.  A company could be creating their own positive reviews, or hiring someone else to do it for them. At the same time, competitors could be posting negative reviews and horror stories to try and draw more business their own way. In some cases it can be fairly easy to tell which is which. If the website is overloaded with reviews that are all simple, basic and along the same lines, it most likely false information. If it is full of bad reviews and low ratings, it could be competitors lashing out or an accurate representation of the business.

It is up to one’s own judgment to decide what is true and false, but there are some new technologies and studies are out there trying to decipher the truth.  A Cornell research team has published a paper on creating an algorithm that can detect false reviews.  Along with this, there are programs developed that can track IP addresses and track the reviews to check the amount and scope of their reviews to determine credibility.  More and more websites are using these new technologies to find and flag misleading information.

If there are positive reviews, you will most likely benefit from them, and can use them to your advantage in a sales and marketing campaign. If negative reviews are posted, they are most likely hurting your business and turning potential customers away. To fight this problem, reputation management companies are becoming more and more popular, but be careful when choosing, because they too can become victims of false positive or negative reviews.

References:

McNichol, Tom; Fixing the Reputations of Reputation Managers. Bloomberg Businessweek  INTERNET February 02, 2012. http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/fixing-the-reputations-of-reputation-managers-02022012.html Accessed 2/3/12

 

Streitfeld, David; Ferreting out Fake Reviews Online; In a Race to Out-Rave, 5-Star Web Reviews Go for $5. NY Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/20/technology/finding-fake-reviews-online.htmlAugust 19, 2011. Accessed 2/3/12

Doctor Rating Sites – More than Just Checkups

By Greg Barr

RepMD.com

There is a new trend that has arisen in the medical field that has been taking doctors by surprise last few years: they are going broke.  Roughly half of the doctors in the nation are running their own private practice, with many of them struggling to stay afloat.

Rising business and drug costs, along with ever-changing regulations and smaller insurance reimbursement have all contributed to the difficulties of maintaining a private practice.

The most important thing physicians can do now is to continue to provide quality care to their customers, ensuring their loyalty. This would give them the best possible opportunity to maintain their success and grow as a practice. There is so much information available now surrounding various doctors and their clinics; it is relatively easy to find the right doctor that fits your needs.  If a doctor were to lose his or her practice, it would send their customer base scrambling to find a new physician.

The Internet has changed the way people find their doctors, with about 80-90% of users going online first to search for healthcare information.  This is often for themselves, but also for others such as the elderly who are less likely to be searching out and trying new doctors. According to the Pew Research Center, 16% of internet users have consulted online rankings or reviews of doctors or other service providers.

With so much instability currently surrounding the economy and industry, there is one thing that doctors can protect: their online reputations.  Negative reviews and comments online do not go away and can be a huge deterrent in keeping new patients away.  The major problem underlying these comments and reviews is that they often portray a skewed view of how the majority of a doctor’s patients feel. Either the patient was completely and totally enthralled with the doctor, or happened to have a bad experience and needed to vent.

Managing your reputation on the Internet is imperative, and not doing so can drastically cut into profits.  Results from a study conducted by Cone Inc. indicate that nearly 80% of consumers change their mind about which product to purchase after they have read a single negative review.  With so many people possibly being turned away, it is not worth having negative comments be easily visible or apparent to potential clients.

The good news is that something can be done to help prevent this. It is possible to take control of what is being said about you, and also control what is seen when being searched for.  By putting positive press and information online, one can dilute or hide the negative comments. Adding personal profiles to social media websites such as Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, and Twitter can all create a positive presence that you can control. Along with this, blogs can help keep patients informed or updated about your practice or research.

Doctor’s can go about doing this in two ways. Either they can take matter’s into their own hands by spending their own time creating a more positive online presence, or they can hire one of the many online reputation management companies that have arisen to combat this problem.  These companies have methods in place to create positive press and hide the negative comments. They ensure that these negative comments or feedbacks are suppressed and can control the results seen on search engines through search engine optimization.

This service has been listed as one of the top new online marketing trends to watch in 2012, and its importance is just starting to be recognized by businesses across the country.  Whether one starts controlling their online presence or not is up to them, but seeing negative reviews online creates an opportunity for doctors regardless. They should able to find ways to address the feedback and connect with and care for their patients better. This would help create a better practice and ensure that patients keep coming back, whether they are new patients or long time visitors.

References:

Cunningham, Tasha; 5 Online Marketing Trends Worth Watching in 2012. Miami Herald, Business Monday, 12/19/11. http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/12/18/2548375/5-online-marketing-trends-worth.html#storylink=fbuser accessed 1/12/12

 

Fox, Susannah; The Social Life of Health Information, 2011. Pew Internet Research Center; May 12, 2011http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2011/Social-Life-of-Health-Info/Summary-of-Findings/Section-1.aspx accessed 1/12/12

 

Kavilanz, Parija; Doctors Going Broke.  CNNMoney.com, Small Business. 1/6/12. http://money.cnn.com/2012/01/05/smallbusiness/doctors_broke/index.htm?hpt=hp_t3&hpt=hp_c1 accessed 1/12/12

 

Mahoney, Sarah; Study: Negative Reviews Grow More Powerful. Media Post News: Marketing Daily; Aug 31, 2011. http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/157679/ accessed 1/13/12

 

Moskwa, Susan; Managing your reputation through search results. The Official Google Blog; 10/15/2009.

            http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2009/10/managing-your-reputation-through-search.html?spref=fb accessed 1/12/12

 

Richard, Mike; How Are People Choosing a Doctor These Days? MedMen Blog by Hbc Health; March 24, 2011. http://www.medmenblog.com/2011/03/how-are-people-choosing-a-doctor-these-days/ accessed 1/12/12

Reputation Management for Physicians

Reputation is something that is hard to earn and takes years of consistent service and customer orientation. It is very difficult to earn trust and reputation of customers, especially from the online community of the users. But it will take only a minute to lose that trust with a negative feedback or comment from a reviewer.

Therefore, it is necessary to maintain online reputation for any business in the present context of online fraud and possible troublemaker activities of the competitors. You can gain your reputation in one day, however, with perfect reputation management strategies; you can be assured to have a good online reputation.

Online reputation management is a comprehensive strategic approach that helps in maintaining the reputation of any business or brand. There are many service provides, that proffer online reputation management with the effective search engine optimization services. The web reputation management strategies, blended with SEO not only help you hold up your reputation and credibility on the arena of World Wide Web, but also help your website rank high in the search engine results.

Now, take a closer look at the step-by-step approach to online reputation management strategies:

Step#1: Improve your search engine ranking results for the first page of SERP

If you have become a victim of allegation and that allegation is being reflected on the first page of SERP with your keywords, then it is important to go for rugged promotion. This will help you in achieving first page ranking for most of the important pages.

Step#2: Remove all the negative feedback links

Although, it is fact that you cannot remove any link physically from the search engine pages but it is, however possible to down-grade them to an extent so that it becomes almost invisible to the users. You can be successful in removal of the allegation links from the featuring websites.

Step#3: create and promote sister websites:

The best way to overcome negative feedback is promoting your website through the sister site or micro-site that is being promoted with the desired keywords. In this way, the micro-site can gain first page keyword ranking with the promotions comparatively easily than your website. Once you get sufficient number of keywords on the first page of SERP, you can push a complaint link back to the result pages, thereby maintaining your reputation back to the original position.

Step#4: Blogging

Maintaining a high profile blog of your website can be a nice idea. The blogs with information rich text always attract visitors. You can also add social media links like Facebook, Twitter along with your blog so that people visiting your blog can spread its links in their circle. This is very beneficial as it help in maintaining an online reputation of an informative website with quality blog contents.

At last, online reputation management is one of the most important aspects to manage any website professionally and ethically. And with the perfect online reputation management strategies you can always succeed in promoting your web business on the vast arena of internet.