The doctor is a quack, a drunk, a perv or other vicious gossip previously said privately are now anonymously posted online for the world to see.
Research and articles like this one in the New York Times have documented how online forums and review sites have become "a cesspool of character assassination." This is a huge problem for healthcare providers. There are things you can do to protect your doctors and organization, here are three:
- Eliminate negative reviews: Online forums have a "report abuse" button. When something is untrue, libelous, vicious or unprovable is posted, report it and the forum will take the comments down. For instance, "The doctor is a quack" is not a fact if the doctor is licensed and board certified.
- Flip negative reviews to positive: If what was posted is a true statement ("I sat in the waiting room for three hours.") then go online and respond to the post. ("This is Betty at Community Hospital, I am so sorry for your inconvenience. I assure you that is not usually the case. Call me at 555-5555 so I can find out more about your bad experience.) Now all readers will think Community Hospital is a wonderful caring place that tries to fix its mistakes.
- Encourage positive reviews: Ask patients, "Do you review doctors or businesses? If so, if you cannot give us the highest rating today, what can we do to help you?" Just that question will be enough to spur patients to go online and rave. Here is a fact about search engine life: once you have thirty (30) or more positive reviews, a bad review will get completely buried in a search and unable to do damage.
Has your patient volume been affected by negative reviews or anonymous gossip? Another great source for information is this 20-minute webinar on the Six Dangers and Opportunities of Social Media.