Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Responding to Online Physician Review Sites

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Responding to Online Physician Review Sites

Article excerpt

Recently, Niam Yaraghi of the Brookings Institution caused quite a kerfuffle regarding the validity of online doctor reviews in a U.S. News & World Report op-ed piece titled, "Don't Yelp Your Doctor."

In it, he argues that customers are "generally qualified and capable" of reviewing a restaurant--anyone can tell if a steak is chewy or a server is rude, he says. (Of course, chefs may disagree.) Yet, when it comes to online physician reviews, Mr. Yaraghi argues that "patients are neither qualified nor capable of evaluating the quality of the medical services that they receive." I can see many of you nodding in vigorous agreement with that last sentence.

Who among us hasn't felt indignant after reading a negative online review? Particularly one that criticizes our office decor or billing, yet makes no mention of our expert clinical abilities? But here's my advice. Have your moment of indignation, then start working on improving your online reputation, which may improve your actual practice as well.

Here are a few tips for optimizing online physician review sites:

* Google yourself and your practice to see which sites your patients are commonly using.

* Set up a Google Alert at https:// Google Alerts are email updates that you receive based on your queries. Include your name and the name of your practice. This way, you'll receive notice when you're mentioned online.

* According to, the most trusted review sites in descending order are: Yelp and Health-grades (tied), RateMDs, Vitals, ZocDoc, and others. So familiarize yourself with these sites.

* Claim your page on review sites. Be sure all of the information listed is updated and correct.

* Upload a professional photo of yourself. It's much more effective to see a picture of you than an empty avatar.

* Be sure someone in your office is responsible for responding to comments online, particularly negative ones. It's best to respond promptly rather than have it linger without a response for weeks. If you don't write it, then at least approve it before it is posted.

* Respond to both positive and negative comments. Yelp, for instance, rewards business owners who maintain their site and actively respond to comments.

When it comes to online physician reviews, I want you to remember a few things:

* Physician reviews are usually favorable.

* Negative reviews are sometimes opportunities to improve your service.

* In the long run, we should want more, not fewer, reviews. Which would you rather have, two negative reviews, or two negative reviews and eight positive ones? …

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