your first impression, not your second_lori trzcinski_summer 2016
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16 | EndoEconomics SUMMER 2016
There is a new era of consumerism in the healthcare space that simply cannot be ignored. Dwindling are the days of finding your physician from a list-ing you saw in the phonebook or an ad posted in the local newspaper. The shift from print to digital media has long since been underway, and change in access to healthcare has moved along with it. There are new ways to access care, tools that offer patients choices, and programs designed to focus on the patient and caregiver experience. With all of these new options, are you paying attention to what your patients are saying about you?
When Bright Local surveyed local businesses for what reputation matters most when choosing a business, a doctors reputation came in second, right behind restaurants at number one1. With consumers having the freedom to research and find just about anything with the click of a button, your public, digital reputation to consumers should be your priority. 92% of internet users read reviews, 89% of people say that reviews influence their purchasing decisions, and 79% of consumers trust online reviews as much as they rely on personal recommendations2.
When was the last time you took a look at how you are rat-ed on review sites such as Google, Yelp, RateMDs, Vitals or Healthgrades? How about your practice or centers social media page ratings? Just because you dont look at them doesnt mean that reviews and information arent therepositive or negative, accurate or inaccurate. Search en-gines heavily weigh online review sites and the reviews of physicians and practices because people strongly consider
By Lori Trzcinski, Marketing Communications Specialist
Your First Impression,
Not Your Second.
SUMMER 2016 EndoEconomics | 17
and use them. You may feel that the work you put into your career is fulfilling and life-saving to the community, but do the community and the patients you serve feel the same? Is that the ideal first impression you want to give them?
According to The New York Times book review of Kevin Pho, MD and Susan Gays Establishing, Managing, and Protecting Your Online Reputation: A Social Media Guide for Physicians and Medical Practices, the Internet is quickly becoming the resource of choice for patients to connect with, learn more about and even rate their doctors. And while many have used Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or online medical community sites to engage with friends and colleagues, few have communicated with patients. Most abstain for one simple reason: they arent sure how to be a doctor online3.
According to the book authors themselves, the biggest risk of social media in healthcare is not using it at all. The Internet has profoundly changed the patient-doctor relationship, and doctors must embrace its effects on patient careor risk losing their own influence4. Opting to ignore rather than support and empower the age of digital search, is a much harder job when you need to resolve inaccuracies and soothe patients qualms. Patients will move onto the competing practice who adapted with change and molded their participation and messaging to fit their needs. Give regard to what resonates with them.
In a 2013 Price Waterhouse Coopers study, approximately 150 million Americans said that they had read healthcare reviews about their physicians5. In a Pew Research Center study from that same year, nearly 80 million Americans claimed that they follow someone elses health experience online6. Knowing how your information appears online and what others are saying about it is important.
This example (Figure 1) shows the page-one Google search results of Brett Bernstein, MD, clinical associate professor of medicine, director of clinical integration for gastroenterology and endoscopy for the Digestive Disease Institute of the Mount Sinai Health System, and medical director of East Side Endoscopy and Pain
Management Center. Out of the ten results, those with the highest presence are the online review sites, making up half of the results (5); followed by (2) news-related, (2) medical practice, and (1) social media page. With around 95% of all web visitors not going beyond the first page for their search result7, what shows up on this page for you as a physician is crucial to the success of your reputation.
So, how do you start taking control?
1. Acknowledge that online presence, ratings and re-views are increasingly becoming that first impression and interaction between you and the potential new patient. Reviews do matter, and they are here to stay.
2. Take 30 minutes and search for your name on Googlestart with the largest search engine first and work your way onto others, such as Bing, Yahoo, Ask, etc. Try this practice at least once a month to familiarize yourself with how you and your practice appear on searches.
GOOGLE RESULT FROM 8/2/16
3. Complete your information online. Create a LinkedIn profile, claim your auto-generated physician profile listings by registering yourself on each of them, verify your personal digital identity. Taking those initial steps will put you ahead of the gameraising your profile ranking and pushing down any irrelevant listings in the search results.
4. Bolster your positive reviews to outweigh the negatives. The vast majority of patients do not leave online reviews, so each bit of feedback weighs more heavily than you would assume. A small review sample can skew results. A difference of one star in rating can lead to a 5-9% difference in expected revenue8.
5. Take it a step further and set aside time to engage with patients on your social feeds and review profilesboosting your visible online presence and personal connections. Understand (and keep in mind) what you can and cannot say in your responses based on HIPAA regulations.
6. Create content that can be published online to help reinforce your overall digital impression and presence. Did you recently win an award? Did you start accepting new patients or performing new procedures? Make sure that any positive information is readily accessible to the public to discover when they are searching for their next doctor.
Not every physician may find the time to take over full control of his or her digital reputation, but that does not mean you should overrule the importance of listening and being proactive when it comes to your name. Hire a professional to help you manage it or outsource that role to a company who offers those services. Various businesses provide reputation management that can help you find the level of coverage that you need. There are even a growing number of healthcare employers who are starting to create internal physician rating systems that are published online as a way to strengthen both their digital image as well as their physician employees.
Quality online maintenance is the key to success in claiming (or reclaiming) your reputation. Within your professional marketing, you should typically discuss your talents as a physician, technology used, and the services provided, but you must also make the inward push focused on the patients and families that you serve. At the end of the day, patients and their loved ones being able to find the best quality care via online search is a step in the right direction towards healthcare efficiency and transparency.
1 Local Consumer Review Survey. Bright Local, 2015. Web. 26 July 2016. https://www.brightlocal.com/learn/local-consumer-review-survey/
2 2013 Study: 79% of Consumers Trust Online Reviews As Much As Personal Recom-mendations. Search Engine Land, 26 June 2013. Web. 26 July 2016. http://search-engineland.com/2013-study-79-of-consumers-trust-online-reviews-as-much-as-personal-recommendations-164565
3 Doctors and Their Online Reputation. New York Times, 21 March 2013. Web. 26 July 2013. http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/03/21/doctors-and-their-online-reputation/
4 Pho, Kevin, MD, and Susan Gay. Establishing, Managing, and Protecting Your On-line Reputation: A Social Media Guide for Physicians and Medical Practices. 1st ed. N.p.: Greenbranch, 2013. Print.
5 Consumer ratings becoming a matter of dollars and cents on Healthcares bot-tom line, finds PwCs Health Research Institute. Price Waterhouse Coopers, 9 April 2013. Web. 26 July 2016. http://www.pwc.com/us/en/press-releases/2013/consumer-ratings-becoming-a-matter-of-dollars.html
6 Health Online 2013. Pew Research Center, 15 January 2013. Web. 26 July 2016. http://www.pewinternet.org/2013/01/15/health-online-2013/
7 No. 1 Position in Google Gets 33% of Search Traffic. Search Engine Watch, 20 June 2013. Web. 26 July 2016. https://searchenginewatch.com/sew/study/2276184/no-1-position-in-google-gets-33-of-search-traffic-study
8 Luca, Michael. Reviews, Reputation, and Revenue: The Case of Yelp.com. Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 12-016, September 2011. (Revised March 2016. Revise and Resubmit at the American Economic Journal - Applied Economics.)
Lori Trzcinski is the marketing communications specialist at Physicians Endoscopy and the managing editor of EndoEconomics. With over seven years of marketing experience, Ms. Trzcinski leads the corporate and center marketing initiatives of PE and its affiliated centers. Ms. Trzcinski earned a B.A. in Business & Economics and Media & Communications from Ursinus College. For more information, she can be reached at
18 | EndoEconomics SUMMER 2016