As a psychiatrist, it’s important to realize you are a public figure. How people see you and the perceptions they have about you are important. Both your online and offline reputation precede you, and people make decisions about you and your practice based on this reputation.
While it’s often thought that only politicians and celebrities need reputation management, doctors do as well, and the urgency of it is increasing.
Health grading and medical review websites are of increasing importance in the decision-making process of both consumers and patients. In addition, the explosion of mobile devices has seen more people turn to doing research on the go. So while a patient may be in your waiting room, they might be actively researching about you online. What they find will create a lasting bias that may or may not be in your favor.
So how do psychiatrists manage their professional reputation? They do it by observing the following five rules:
Your reputation lives both offline and online
You may have a stellar reputation offline in your community, but just a few negative comments online can do significant damage. If you have been purely focusing on your reputation offline, you are neglecting a powerful medium that affects your reputation – the web.
Today, investing in your reputation offline AND online is the only way to build a solid reputation.
Always respond to negative comments
For one reason or another, a client may have an unpleasant experience with you or your office. In response, they could send you an email or leave a review on a rating website that isn’t so rosy. Don’t ignore it. Respond immediately with courtesy and respect and offer a fair remedy to the issue, even if this equals to just offering an apology.
Encourage positive reviews and ratings
Patients that are happy with your services won’t mind telling others. The problem is that they probably won’t do this without some encouragement. You need to recruit these clients and encourage them to not only provide you with a testimonial, but to also share their experience on social and medical review websites.
Patient privacy comes first
While a patient has very little restricting them from talking about their experiences with you, you operate under a different set of rules. HIPAA rules preventing psychiatrists from divulging patient information. So no matter how much information you have on a patient, never use it as leverage when responding to comments online. Remember, you took an oath and your patient didn’t.
Resist the urge to generate positive comments yourself
It’s great to have glowing comments about you online. So great, in fact, that you might be tempted to write up a few yourself. Don’t. This practice, known as astro turfing, is illegal and paints you in a very poor light if discovered. Beware of companies promising amazing reviews from anonymous patients. Genuine reviews take time to cultivate, but they are worth the time and effort.
Ignorance and neglect are not an option. Your reputation, online and offline, will always precede you.