Surviving Social MediaMany practitioners are reluctant to use social media “for work,” and that’s understandable. The idea that someone could critique their medical experience the same way they’d rate dinner at a restaurant is a little unnerving. The rewards of social media presence are often intangible for medical practices. Updating websites, posting on Facebook, tweeting and blogging are fine for some businesses, but should doctors spend their already-scarce time in the virtual world?
There are plenty of reasons not to, as Dr. Dike Drummon wrote in a Happy MD post a couple of years ago. First, there is no ROI for many practices. Second, posting/responding/tweeting/updating can be overwhelming for an already busy physician.
Furthermore, even if a patient discloses protected health information in a post, the rules are different for physicians, making responses more difficult.
If these cases aren’t compelling enough to stay offline, there are plenty of modern legends about patients writing blistering reviews of their physician on Facebook or one of the many rate-your-doctor websites. Who needs that?
You might – because ignoring bad reviews won’t make them go away. Staying offline won’t stop patients from critiquing your practice, and that’s not always a bad thing: DocSpot has reported that patient online reviews of their physician are more likely to be positive than negative.
As more physician review websites come online, practices should consider developing or fine-tuning an appropriate response for negative reviews, according to Physicians Practice.
Fierce Practice Management has these recommendations for not only surviving social media, but creating an online presence that thrives:

  • If patients report problems such as parking or non-care-related concerns, try to make improvements based on that feedback. Some patients may write online reviews because they don’t want to critique a physician or practice in person. Other patients probably share these opinions.
  • Respond privately when possible and publicly only when necessary. When doctors acknowledge patients’ complaints and engage in direct discussions of how to do better, they can turn critics into allies.
  • Don’t respond to anonymous negative reviews, and don’t allow your office staff to respond, either. Chances are, your more satisfied patients will defend you online.
  • Report fake reviews to the review websites. These sites aren’t legally required to intervene, but they share a common interest with doctors in making sure false reviews get removed.

In addition, respond to legitimate critical reviews as soon as possible, because left unanswered, negative reviews can and will proliferate.
To correct inaccurate information and nip false assumptions in the bud, DrLaw suggests every practice routinely conduct its own online credentialing, searching on the practice’s name and the names of each physician, and finding their scores on widely used rating sites (Vitals, Healthgrades, RateMDs, etc.). Verify that the data included is up to date and accurate, and challenge adverse ratings according to the sites’ rules for doing so.

Last Updated on June 30, 2016