85 percent of patients are not comfortable choosing a physician if more than 10 percent of that physician’s reviews have a one-star rating. (Digital Assent)

The Internet is a fount of medical information that prospective patients use to find specialists, family doctors in their neighborhood, and to read physician reviews. They’ll visit review sites, like Vitals.com, RateMDs.com, Zocdoc.com, Healthgrades.com and take recommendations from their peers on social media. Patients want to take control of their healthcare, and ophthalmologists need to monitor and nurture their online reputations.

Every complaint is an opportunity to improve your practice and energize patient referrals. How you handle corrective action will allow new patients to preview how they will be treated in your care. Be empathic and human with unhappy patients, and thank your happy patients.

Low-cost or free monitoring solutions

Put Google to Work: Google Alerts is one powerful, free and easy to use. All you do is enter your search term, Dr. Monitor Indianapolis, and hit enter. Repeat until you have entered all of your search terms. How you formulate your alert is paramount to getting the right information back. Here are a few tips and a hack.

Enter the names of the physicians in your practice, and narrow the search with your location.

Dr. James Monitor, Indianapolis

Try variations of your name

Jim Monitor, MD, Indianapolis, James Conner Monitor, M.D. Indianapolis

Use your company name

Rainbow Lasik, Indianapolis

Try omitting your name to get information about your competitors

Lasik Surgery Indianapolis

Set Google Alerts to an interval you can manage. Daily if possible.

47 percent of patients who look up a physician online feel differently about that physician after reading his or her profile and reviews. (Vitals)

Hack the Review Sites

The following syntax narrows Google search to a specific website.

For example: site:vitals.com "James Monitor M.D. Now add these searches Google Alerts, and you’ll have a first line of defense. Here’s a list of the top review sites.
Google Business

Get it straight with business directories

You’re probably aware that there are 100s of search directories on the net, like Yahoo, Manta, Yelp, etc. It’s important they all have the exact same information. Your address spelled the same way. So, 120 Monitor Dr., not 120 Monitor Drive. These directory listings can/should contain a consistent description of your practice, too.

You can enter the directory information manually, or use service like Yext or Manta to automate the submissions. Seriously, you don’t want to do this yourself. If your information is cockeye across these various sites, Google may view you as unreliable and drop your practice in search rankings.

Monitor Reputation on Social Media

You’ll want to monitor your reputation any conversations about you on social media, too. Here’s a list of free tools to get started. Pick one that gives you the information you want, and is easy to hand off to a staff member.

There are a number of practice monitoring software platforms that combine capabilities that we’ve talked about here. They range from $200 to $300 a month and usually combine SEO and business directory tools, and more. The question is, do you or someone on your staff have the bandwidth to operate it.

Good luck with dipping your toe into reputation management. Let us know what works for you.