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Physicians: Be Cautious in Responding to Negative Online Reviews

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We’ve been looking at six ways in which physicians can monitor and manage their online reputations, courtesy of Karen Zupko over at Physicians Practice. Zupko has over three decades of experience working with physicians and is president of KarenZupko & Associates Inc., a practice-management consulting and training firm.

So far, she has suggested that physicians should search for their names on all ratings sites. The second suggestion she gave was to use automation to monitor what is said about you; the third was to complete your online profile(s) and correct errors in those profile(s); the fourth was to self-assess your consultation and interpersonal skills with patients; and the fifth was to be unafraid to ask satisfied patient to write positive reviews.

The sixth and final way in which you can protect your online reputation is to…

Use caution when handling negative reviews.

Negative reviews are not going to necessarily make or break you in your current job or as you look for your next job. As Zupko writes, “…having a few of them can make a cadre of glowing ratings seem more authentic.”

Patients and potential employers “understand that no one can be perfect 100 percent of the time. The key phrase to remember is: The only solution to online pollution is dilution. In other words, the best way to deal with negative reviews is with an ongoing stream of positive reviews from satisfied patients,” as we covered in our last post.

So: “When your automated alert system does turn up a concerning post, be careful how you handle it. HIPAA limits your ability to respond, and trying to correct or argue with the patient online is a mistake. Encourage the poster to call and speak with someone at the practice instead. Before you address truly blasphemous posts, contact your attorney.”

How you handle negative reviews—i.e., criticism--will also reflect favorably upon you as a potential employer. By responding in a professional, patient-centered way, employers and future patients will see that your ego does not come ahead of your quality of care and concern for the services you’re providing patients.

As physicians who are looking for jobs, what have your experiences online been like? Have you been on the receiving end of any negative attacks on your skills and reputation? How did you respond? Have these negative reviews/attacks been brought up in job interviews?

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