Saturday, May 2, 2015

Establishing, Managing, and Protecting Your Online Reputation

physician reputation
How's your online reputation?
We read dozens of articles from month to month about how doctors should use their Web sites and social media outlets to promote their practices more effectively. The advice, however, tends to be highly generalized and often fails to address the fundamental, practical challenges facing physicians and practice administrators who struggle to understand this brave new world.

That’s where this popular book, Establishing, Managing and Protecting Your Online Reputation: A Social Media Guide for Physicians and Medical Practices comes in. It offers both a beginner’s course in understanding Internet professionalism and extensive resources for even the seasoned doctor or manager. Even New York Times blogger Pauline W. Chen, MD, heralds this book as a “social media manifesto for physicians” at http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/03/21/doctors-and-their-online-reputation/.

We don’t overtly endorse very many books here in Solving Problems in the Medical Practice, but every once in a while, one comes along that clearly deserves the attention of every practicing physician and administrator in the country. And considering the fact that most doctors have thus far tried to avoid the risks and ignore the opportunities of a strong online presence, you have no more time to waste. Most of your patients (and potential patients) are already looking for you out there in cyberspace.Publishing veteran Susan Gay teamed up with physician and online celebrity Kevin Pho, MD, (of KevinMD.com) to write the first comprehensive guide for physicians to use social media effectively. “Social media” has become one of those everyday terms that people find difficult to define. Dictionaries emphasize “social media” as “technologies used to turn communication into interactive dialogue.” Pho and Gay quote Tim McKenna of Pennsylvania Academy of Family Physicians. He refers to social media as “digital word of mouth.”

Dr. Pho has learned how to leverage online resources to brand his practice—and himself— successfully. He applies that hard-won expertise and supports it with copious research (most of it online, of course) to create this comprehensive guide for physicians who recognize that the Internet isn’t a passing fad.

The book’s theme revolves around the physician’s online reputation, a common concern in these days of Facebook and Angie’s List. The authors include a chapter about rating sites—possibly one of the Web’s most frightening features for physicians. In fact, Pho and Gay report that there are more than 50 rating sites dedicated to healthcare alone.

Doctors don’t have to sit idly by and feel victimized by an angry patient or two. The authors go through several of the most popular rating sites, explaining how they work and how physicians can interact positively with each. Pho emphasizes that it’s the physician’s responsibility to take control of the situation, to be proactive. In the chapter about protecting your online reputation, they describe how to encourage your happy patients to write reviews, and how to respond to negative reviews. He exposes strategies (like lawsuits and gag orders) that really don’t work.

The book includes a chapter that tells Pho’s own story—his journey from social networking to mainstream media. The details of that journey help the reader understand how Pho’s proactive approach to online living has paid off handsomely.