Doctors- Dealing and Removing Bad Online Reviews Before it Ruins your Career
To start bluntly thousands of Doctors’ reputation is tarnished each year and the careers of a big part of them is destroyed beyond repair is constantly under threat from bad and negative press. As doctors and the medical community gets used to online presence they are learning the nuances of protecting, improving, and rescuing their brand’s image. Today more than 70% prospects go online to identify and zero-in on a healthcare practice, physician, or a doctor for their needs. This has prompted most in the field of medicine to have an optimized presence online but more often that not online reputation management has been ignored.
One negative review from an aggrieved patient or a malicious comment from a disgruntled employee can ruin years of hard work and sincerity. This has made doctors and physicians extremely defensive. How defensive doctors have become was highlighted by an article published in Forbes, May 2005.
Case of Mr. Timothy Lee and Dr. Ken Cirka
According to the article Timothy Lee was looking for the services of dentist in Philadelphia. He happened to zero-in on Dr. Ken Cirka and reached the doctor’s office. This was the beginning of Dr. Cirka’s misfortune, not because Mr. Lee had horrible teeth, but because Mr. Lee was up to speed on copyright and privacy laws. While filling out the patient intake form Mr. Lee was surprised by one clause that read “Mutual Privacy Agreement.” Mr. Lee was aware of doctors’ responsibility to keep patients records confidential, but this mutual privacy clause absolutely floored him.
Careful reading of the agreement (which most patients don’t usually do), Mr. Lee realized that this was Dr. Cirka’s way of protecting himself from negative press and reviews. The agreement asked patients to transfer ownership of any public comments they may make in future about Dr. Cirka. So, in case Mr. Lee was dissatisfied with the quality of service/care he received at Dr. Cirka’s office and decided to post a comment on Yelp or any other doctor review site, Dr. Cirka could sue him for copyright violation.
Not only was Mr. Lee mystified by this, but he decided to probe further and found out to his utter dismay that the said agreement’s genesis was a nonprofit called “Medical Justice.”
Soon after this news was out, legal experts opined that the copyright provisions in the agreement were toothless and would not stand judicial scrutiny. But, what was worrying was the fact that doctors were resorting to gagging patients. Agreed, negative review can be awful for a medical practice. But why engage in such thing when a more ethical process like “Reputation Management” exists. It is either a case where doctors are unaware of such a thing called Reputation Management or they are ill advised.
Online Reputation Management
Online Reputation Management for doctors is a combination of two disciplines, marketing and public relations. Reputation management performs three major functions: image creation, maintenance of reputation or “scaffolding,” and image rescue to repair the damage done. The three functions do overlap sometimes; however, each addresses different circumstances.
Image creation can be used by doctors and other healthcare professionals who are just starting up and want a well represented online presence. This is a popular tool with businesses, politicians, and healthcare professionals that want to leverage the power of internet to further their credibility. Image creation involves strategically using specific keywords and populating the web with content that establishes a client’s positive web presence.
This is a slightly complex process and can be used by doctors, including dentists, chiropractors, etc, to maintain their online reputation and grow their brand. Scaffolding is a term derived from psychology. This practice helps doctors and other healthcare professionals maintain a positive brand image until it is needed to handle negative comments and reviews in a mature manner.
Reputation Management Rescue
This part of reputation management comes into play when doctors, physicians, and other healthcare professionals struggle to deal with negative comments, reviews, and bad press. Reputation management experts approach each situation differently, and based on the severity of the problem design and implement strategy to counter the negative impact on a practice. Solutions range from filing libel charges against perpetrators to conducting extensive public relation exercises to gain lost ground.
All three approaches were available to Dr. Cirka, he could have resorted to the first two programs, image creation and scaffolding, and populated the web with positive content. And in case Mr. Lee posted a negative comment he could have buried those comments by highlighting and optimizing all the positive comments and reviews he received from satisfied patients. Mr. Lee’s negative comments would thus have been relegated to the back pages of search engines where no one would have found and read them.
In the likely event of the comments finding their way on Yelp or a doctor review site it would not have made such a dent as Dr. Cirka would have 100 positive comments and one negative comment.
Mr. Lee and Dr. Cirka are unlikely to meet for a drink in the near future, but other medical professionals can take lesson from this incident and engage respected online reputation management companies to manage their reputation. If you have procrastinated, you are already too late! Make amends now before someone with malicious intent dents years of hard work and service to the community.
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