Staying on top of what people are saying or writing about you is about more than ego. It helps you amplify the positive and quickly resolve anything negative—before it blows up.

Healthcare providers face a unique challenge when it comes to their reputations. How current and future patients view you can mean the difference between a full appointment calendar or an empty lobby. A single negative post on social media can torpedo your hard-earned reputation, even if what is written is untrue.

You need good reputation management habits to stay on top of your healthcare reputation. You also need to do it in a way that is safe and reliable. Start with these seven reputation management tricks before trying any others.

1. Claim Your Profile on All Review Sites

There are a lot of review sites out there, and claiming your profile on all of them can seem like a daunting task. But an unclaimed profile means you’re not tracking what is said about you on that site. It also gives the appearance that you just don’t care.

It’s important that you claim your profiles, especially on the big mainstream sites like Google My Business and Yelp. These are resources that most people go to first when considering who they want to work with. Great reviews on these sites get them past the first hurdle of considering you. Bad reviews have them moving along to the next option.

For healthcare professionals, there are a slew of medical-specific review sites to monitor, too. Vitals, HealthGrade, RateMDs, ZocDoc, and RealSelf are some of the most popular sites. Choosing a healthcare provider is a complicated thing to do for most people. Future patients dig deep into sites like these to find out all they can before choosing a new healthcare practitioner.

Ignore your profile on these sites at your own peril. Just like with Google My Business and Yelp, if you aren’t engaged with your profile on these sites, you’re missing an opportunity to shape the narrative about your professional self.

Claiming your profile on any of these sites is easy to do. Each site will have a very obvious option for you to claim your profile. Usually it’s a clickable link that then walks you through the process that takes just a few minutes to complete.

Here’s an example from Vitals.

Vitals profile example with red arrow pointing to Claim your profile link

The process to claim your profile will vary by site, but it’s usually very straightforward and easy to do. Once you claim your profile, you’re well-positioned to monitor and respond to reviews.

2. Seed Review Sites with Positive Reviews

Don’t leave things to chance, especially when it comes to glowing reviews about great service you’ve provided. You want happy patients to share their satisfaction with others beyond their immediate circle of friends and family. Honest reviews from satisfied patients are the best way to maintain a great healthcare reputation.

So how do you do this? Identify your patients who have had great outcomes, and ask them for reviews. Now is not the time to be shy or trust that they’ll give reviews without any prompting. People are busy. Even the ones with the best intentions to leave a positive review somewhere tend to forget. They get caught up with life after they step out of your office, and the review gets pushed to the bottom of their to-do list.

The key to getting positive reviews is by making it easy for patients to leave them. Send a personalized, follow-up email a few days after their appointment and ask for a review. Be sure to include links to your preferred review sites. This makes it really easy for a patient to just click on a link, go straight to your profile on that site, and quickly leave their review. 

But asking is just step one. It’s equally important that you regularly monitor all the reviews you receive on these sites, too. You can share the positive reviews across your own social media channels and website while immediately addressing any concerns or issues raised in less than stellar reviews.

3. Address Bad Reviews Right Away

The truth is, not every review left about you is going to be amazing. Sometimes these are rooted in fact, sometimes they are purely vindictive from a person with an ax to grind. 

Legitimate complaints should be responded to in a factual and empathetic way. Two things to do are to acknowledge the situation and offer follow-up options to further discuss the complaint. 

While you don’t want to (and shouldn’t) get into healthcare details in a public forum, demonstrating compassion and concern shows you in a positive light—even in a bad situation like a negative review. A simple “thank you for bringing this to our attention, please contact our office so we can further discuss this matter” is enough to show you are paying attention and care.

But then there are the negative reviews that aren’t based in fact. They may be factually inaccurate, or in extreme cases totally false. Both situations can damage your reputation.

The good news is you have a couple options to deal with these kinds of reviews. 

If the review is legitimate but not factually correct, you can choose to respond in a polite manner and offer private follow-up options to resolve concerns offline. Again, the point is to show you are listening and empathetic to the reviewer’s concerns, not to defend yourself on the review site. The less you say, the better. A simple invitation to connect offline to discuss is sufficient.

But what about fake or vindictive reviews? If the review is fake, is not about you or your practice, or meets other criteria set forth by each review site, you can ask the site to remove the review altogether. Here are the steps to request the removal of a review on Yelp.

There is also the possibility that these types of reviews will end up appearing in a Google search about you or your clinic. In those cases, you can use a few different strategies to remove these unwanted search results from Google. It isn’t always easy and might take a lot of legwork on your part, but it’s worth it if the information is particularly damaging and untrue.

4. Monitor Social Networks Consistently

Social media feeds on outrage, plain and simple. Negative content brings out the anonymous keyboard warriors, and piling on is the order of the day. Nobody cares if what is said or written is true or not. They just want to add fuel to the fire.

The best way to keep potentially negative stories about you or your practice under control is to address them before they pick up steam. Unfortunately, it only takes a few days (or even a few hours) for negative content to gain momentum. This means you have to pay attention every single day to these channels.

Manually reviewing every social media channel every day takes a lot of time. It is not likely you or your staff have the time or dedication to do it 365 days a year.

The good news is that there are tools out there that help you manage your online reputation. Google Alerts, Social Mention, and Semrush are just a few. Some, like Google Alerts, are free to use but don’t always catch everything said about you, especially when it comes to mentions on Facebook or Instagram. Other tools, like Semrush, are subscription-based, but worth every penny to automate the monitoring task.

When you do find negative content, addressing it quickly and succinctly is key. A simple “Thank you, please contact us privately so we can get more information” is the best response. You do not want to feed into the outrage loop by defending yourself or engaging with online trolls.

5. Solicit Patient Feedback  

The best way to keep a finger on the pulse of your practice is by getting feedback from your patients. Understanding what your patients think and feel helps you identify areas for improvement.

Oftentimes, patients are hesitant to offer this feedback or make suggestions in real-time. That’s just human nature, especially if they have a concern or suggestion for improvement. To get honest feedback most effectively, you should give patients a way to provide these insights that doesn’t involve a face-to-face conversation. 

Follow-up emails after each appointment with a link to an online survey is efficient and effective. It allows for anonymity and the ability for the patient to complete it on their own timeframe.

You can also give patients a printed questionnaire at the conclusion of an appointment. If you go that route, providing a drop box outside your office where they can leave completed surveys is a good idea. 

However you choose to do this, the key is to give patients the freedom and space to offer honest thoughts about their experience with you and your clinic.

6. Promptly Address Complaints

When a patient has a complaint or bad experience, how you respond makes all the difference. Even the thorniest situation can usually be managed when you demonstrate compassion.

The easiest way to do this is by actively listening to your patients. Nobody wants to feel ignored or unimportant. Even if a patient’s complaints are unfounded, helping them feel listened to can nip potentially negative outcomes in the bud. 

Listen and respond professionally to the best of your ability. Give patients the time they need to explain their situation to you. Don’t brush them off or ignore their concerns. Keeping the lines of communication open solves a lot of issues before they become bigger problems.

7. Don’t be Afraid to Seek Outside Help

All of these suggestions can feel a bit overwhelming, especially for a busy healthcare provider and their staff. The truth is, reputation management is a specialized skill set. There are professionals out there whose full-time job is helping others stay on top of their reputations.

Most busy professionals just don’t have time to stay on top of reputation management. This is especially true for healthcare providers with heavy caseloads and packed schedules. Outsourcing this task can be a lifesaver.

When it makes sense to outsource your own reputation management, you’ll want to choose a proven service provider. You want someone with tons of experience in this space and a long list of satisfied clients.

Check out our go-to reputation management company suggestions. Many of these companies have been around for decades and serve individuals and companies with fully customized solutions. They take reputation management off your plate and deliver the results you want. You can focus on doing what you do best and leave the legwork to a trusted partner.