Did you know that patients may be making a decision on their nephrologist based on online reviews? These reviews often take place on websites you didn’t even know you had a presence on and could potentially hurt your reputation and patient base if left unmanaged.

From Healthgrades to Yelp, to Facebook and beyond, there are ample places for someone to vent their frustrations or sing praises about their physician. Unfortunately, people are far more inclined to tell the world when they’ve had a poor experience as opposed to when they have had a good one. And while it might not seem fair, you may be judged on whether or not you are a good doctor based on the experiences and opinions of others so it’s important for your reputation that you monitor and understand where these comments are coming from to appropriately manage them.

Below we have provided several suggestions that can help you get a handle on your online presence and reputation.

  1. Claim your profile on the largest review sites and make sure your information (education, practice address, etc.) is accurate. Healthgrades, WebMD, Yelp and Google MyBusiness are the sites where we recommend starting with. We tend to see these sites rise to the top on Google searches and also see the largest number of reviews on these sites. This is just our experience so we recommend doing a bit of research on your own to see where you and your practice are getting the most traffic.
  2. If you are working at a practice, encourage the group to create (or claim) their Facebook page. Facebook allows patients to leave a review about their experience or simply “check in” somewhere, even if that place doesn’t have a Facebook page. This is a site that people are on every day anyways, so it seems simple for them to leave a quick review or tag you in a status update letting their friends know where they are.
  3. Outsource the job to a company who specializes in compiling reviews. There are several companies out there that do this for a living. They help to analyze what profiles you need to claim and notify you when you receive a new review so that you can respond. If you’re committed to monitoring your online reputation everywhere on the World Wide Web AND willing to spend some significant money to do so, this option might be for you.
  4. Make sure that you are RESPONDING to reviews as you are able to. A negative review is much worse if left unnoticed by you. Patients want to feel heard and validated. You may not be able to respond to every single review if you’re managing your presence on your own, but we encourage you to try your best. And of course, when you are crafting a response, make sure you are HIPAA compliant. We suggest that you provide an alternative method of contact in your initial response to further discuss their experience and resolve their concerns with you directly rather than engaging in such a conversation online.
  5. If you are currently a fellow, make sure to update your information on ALL review sites when you transition from fellowship to your new career. This will provide value to your future employer and help to instill trust in your patients because you are conscious of what they want to know about you.

We do realize that many of your patients are coming to you directly from the referral of their primary care physician and that nephrologists may not be receiving the same number of reviews that a dermatologist might; however, some of your patients ARE looking at you online which means it is extremely important for you to take ownership of your online presence sooner rather than later.

If you have questions about your job search, email us at fellowshipoutreach@davita.com!