Medicine in a digital age — 5 ways to improve your online reviews from an expert

Vanguard Communications' Ron King shared five tips with Medpage Today on how providers and practices can improve their online reviews.

Mr. King said it's not unethical for a practice to actively try to improve online reviews, but it must be done following certain guidelines.

Here are Mr. King's five tips:

1. Only ask real patients to post reviews. Don't resort to asking employees, friends or family to post reviews. Instead, encourage happy patients to share their experience. Fake reviews are easy to spot.

2. Be careful about asking for reviews. Don't incentivize reviews. Mr. King discourages it because it "jeopardizes the physician-patient relationship."

3. Offer patients constant feedback opportunities. Hear from unhappy patients before they go to the public to try and resolve their unhappiness. It also helps practices implement new ways to improve their practice. Mr. King suggests posting visit surveys that are concise and to the point to address the issue.

4. Answer critical reviews publicly. Claim your online identity and address harsh critics. Appear open minded and open eared. Avoid any patient care or health condition discussions while also trying to avoid confirming the reviewer is a patient.

5. Provide top-of-class customer service. Medicine is becoming a retail service. In Vanguard's experience, medical practices with poor service get the worst online reviews. Mr. King said, "Be good to your patients and they will be good to you online."

Editor's note: This article was updated Sept. 29.

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