- Prevent: Create a patient-centered practice that emphasizes excellent customer service at every step, from appointment call to final billing process.
- Emphasize quality improvement everywhere. Take criticisms seriously, and make corrections and enhancements wherever you can.
- Use an in-house patient-satisfaction survey. It will allow unhappy patients to tell you - rather than the whole world - what they don't like.
- Monitor: Make it part of your routine (or a staff member's job) to search the Web periodically for flaming criticism.
- Respond: When you find those online jibes, respond to them through the channels provided by the more reputable consumer sites.
- Use caution. Don't reveal any personal health information in your response.
- Use diplomacy. Emphasize to Web surfers that you take criticism seriously and that your entire staff constantly works to improve patients' experiences with you.
- Use an expert. Consider hiring a PR representative to help you write responses that have the right "spin."
Greenbranch publishes two books on this topic: Check out Establishing, Managing and Protecting Your Online Reputation: A Social Media Guide for Physicians and Medical Practices and The Patient-Centered Payoff: Driving Practice Growth Through Image, Culture and Patient Experience.
If you enjoy reading the blog entries in "Solving Problems in the Medical Practice" you may want to check out all the great products at Greenbranch Publishing.