According to healthgrades.com, 77% of patients utilize online reviews when searching for a new doctor or booking appointments for a medical visit. This means that practices and centers not only need to ensure a welcoming, empathetic, and open in-person environment but also maintain their online personalities to ensure they maximize patient volume. Adding this additional set of tasks to an already busy workplace may seem like unnecessary work, but ensuring your location is appropriately presenting itself online can make or break the success of a practice or ASC.
Why Worry About It?
For many, creating and posting a simple Google Business profile to go along with an already existing website may seem like the most fundamental aspect of maintaining your location’s online persona. However, additional elements like responding to reviews and linking social media accounts add another layer of depth, helping you better connect with potential patients.
Along with your location’s business profile, it is also critical to provide adequate training for employees who take the reputation of your practice or ASC with them every time they log on to a social media site, comment on a message board, or send an email. At the same time, diving deep into your employee’s personal accounts is unwise and unethical. Teaching them how to protect your location’s reputation while online can save you effort and potentially other troubles in the future.
Responding to Reviews
Responding to positive and negative reviews can be a great way to promote positive patient experiences and openly address negative experiences. When responding to reviews, Google advises that responses should be “short and courteous (even if you disagree with the reviewer, and avoid getting too personal.”
While responding to a negative review is never a fun experience, it’s a vital part of online reputation management. Some studies show that companies who actively respond to negative reviews, rather than only recognize positive experiences, gain increased trust from customers or patients. LinkedIn summarizes the need to respond to negative reviews as follows:
“Responding to negative reviews is a key component of reputation management, as it shows customers that you value their feedback and are willing to address any issues,” the article states. “To do this effectively, it’s important to respond quickly and politely, explain and resolve the issue, and encourage and monitor the outcome. Try to respond within 24 hours and use a respectful and professional tone. Don’t argue or blame the reviewer, but explain what went wrong and offer a solution.”
Additionally, LinkedIn recommends taking the conversation offline via phone or email, following up with the reviewer, and ending the conversation by encouraging them to return for an opportunity to provide a better experience.
Staying Active on Socials
Social media sites like Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook have become digital mega-highways for information dispersal. DataReportal reports that the average American spends 2.5 hours daily on social media, equivalent to 864 hours per year or roughly 36 days.
This large amount of time reinforces the necessity that you not only HAVE social media accounts but that they remain active. An active social media account is not one that simply exists. An active page interacts with the community, creating posts, sharing and resharing information, and communicating with patients.
With patients conducting research before scheduling, active social media accounts are critical to connecting and engaging potential patients. This is another opportunity to manage and respond to comments and reviews. An active account can also boost word-of-mouth marketing, as friends who are current patients can provide recommendations to potential patients. Again, this links closely with in-person experiences, as recommendations can be positive or negative.
Take the time to promote awards via social media and employee recognition. This activity promotes an inclusive, welcoming practice or center for potential patients.
Employee Online Presence
Employers should not become directly involved in employee’s social media activity unless the business is directly affected. However, proper training on appropriate social media usage is recommended, as employees directly represent the practice or center in public or online.
Establish clear guidelines for employee social media usage. TechTarget outlines nine guidelines employers should follow when discussing employee’s social media:
- Address Personal use of Social Media during work hours
- Employees should not register with work email addresses for personal social media accounts.
- Encourage Employees to be Respectful
- Employees should not use derogatory or offensive language online. Their online presence acts as an extension of your practice or ASC. These remarks can negatively impact your location’s reputation.
- Follow Social Protocol
- Your practice or ASC’s Code of Conduct still applies online. Ensure employees understand this extension of your established policy.
- Prohibit Posting of Confidential Information
- Employees should never post confidential information on social media, such as client lists, business strategy, nonpublic finances, etc…
- Promote Employee Engagement
- Encourage employees to share and interact with company posts through comments, sharing, and resharing.
- Explain Copyright & Legal Concerns
- Outline copyright laws and legal concerns regarding using images, music, video, graphics, etc…
- Ensure Opinions do not Represent your Practice or ASC
- Make Ensure employees clarify that any opinions expressed via social media do not represent those of your location to avoid confusion or legal troubles.
- Know when to use your Logo
- Employees should be allowed to use your practice or ASC’s logo; however, provide clear guidelines as to when this is permitted.
- Do Not Respond to Negative Reviews
- Responses to negative reviews from patients or former employees should only be provided by a social media manager or designated employees via the business account. Employee personal accounts should avoid commenting on negative reviews.
How to Proceed
By establishing guidelines and procedures for maintaining your practice or ASCs social media presence, you can promote a strong visual to potential patients and, in turn, maintain and increase your patient volume.
At SCA Health, we work to encourage engagement from our employees while listening to positive and negative feedback. We then take this information and use to to evolve and find new ways to best support our teammates and patients.