Posted on January 5, 2011
When's the last time you went online as a potential new patient
and researched what information is readily available with just a
If it's been a while - possibly never? - then it's time to do
so. With public rankings and reviews so prevalent, the first step
to helping your physicians create and maintain a positive image is
to find out what information exists.
Let's say someone was just referred to a cardiologist. You
can bet that she - and even more likely her adult children living
halfway across the U.S. - will at a minimum run the new physician's
name through Google. Likewise when someone moves to a new
city or has an insurance change that requires picking a primary
What if they find this?
"Dr. XXXX should retire. She orders way too many tests and
can't explain why. I would not recommend her to my worst
"Dr. YYYY misdiagnosed my mother's symptoms. Unfortunately
she can't complain about him because she's dead. Don't repeat her
"Dr. ZZZZ might be a good doctor but I couldn't understand a
thing she said. Her motormouth didn't slow down once - must
have had a quota to keep up with."
Wouldn't it be better to discover this instead?
"Dr. AAAAA is a great doctor. I felt like she really
wanted to help me. She listened carefully, asked me to
clarify a few things and then assessed what was going on. I
was feeling better in just a few hours - don't hesitate to make her
"Dr. BBBB saved my dad's life. He kept looking for
answers when other doctors had given up. He even has his
nurse check in with dad every month to see how he's feeling.
It's a relief knowing he's in good hands."
"Dr. CCCC has to be one of the best pediatricians in the
area. He has cared for my twin boys since they were
born. He takes away their fears and truly cares about their
health and well-being."
Keep in mind that some will see the rankings as nothing more
than popularity contests that lack the credibility necessary to be
truly useful. But others will use this research to help them
make a decision.
Clearly those of you with a small medical staff have a huge
advantage since you can regularly monitor what's being said.
Those with hundreds of physicians shouldn't use that as an excuse,
instead make it a challenge to complete the research over time.
What should you do with the information you gather? Stay
tuned - I'll discuss that next week.
Posted on January 18, 2011
In my last posting, I suggested that you monitor your medical
staff's online reputation - and promised to share what to do if you
found something negative.
One of the problems you'll face is determining the credibility
of the negative postings. A practice administrator might be
able to help confirm or deny the allegations, but more likely won't
due to patient confidentiality. Instead of spending too much time
being judge and jury, remind yourself that it doesn't matter:
If you found the information, anyone else can, too. Each
individual viewer must decide independently whether to believe what
As a general rule, you'll want to populate the internet with as
many positive posts as possible about the provider to move the
negative information lower in search results. That isn't anything
you can - or should - do all by yourself.
The first thing you need to do is share your findings with the
providers and outline the steps he or she can take to build up a
defense to as little as one harmful review. Here are a few
1) Remind the providers not to
kill the messenger. Odds are he or she hasn't seen this
negative information. Some of the postings will be hurtful and make
them defensive. It might take some time for them to realize that
you're being helpful, but eventually they will appreciate that you
shared your findings.
2) Discourage direct
confrontations. While the provider might know the source of the
negative info - or at least believe they do - it will be difficult
to convince the patient to remove it. In fact, in most cases
confronting the patient will only add fuel to the very fire you're
trying to put out.
3) Manage expectations. The
providers will immediately want you to get the information removed.
Some sites will agree to delete blatantly untrue statements or
factual errors. If you're so lucky, make sure it's corrected in the
context of the original posting and not just as a separate
correction. The reality is don't count on such
recourse. Instead, explain to the providers that a better
defense is encouraging loyal patients to share positive experiences
Some organizations are asking patients to agree not to post
anything about their experience - whether it's positive or
negative. As a patient, I would wonder what the provider is
trying to hide. Instead of taking this step, fix the few
problem areas within the organization and be proud of the good
experiences most patients encounter.