[Webinar] Reputation Matters: Managing Your Practice's Online Reputation

In this webinar with Riverside County Medical Association, Lauren Parr from RepuGen, an online reputation management service, goes into detail about what exactly online reputation is, its importance for healthcare professionals, and how to improve it.

Transcript from the Webinar

Dr. Singhvi: Good afternoon. I am Dr. Ajeet Singhvi, president of Riverside County Medical Association. Thank you for joining us for today’s webinar, Reputation Matters: Managing Your Online Reputation. I think it’s a very important topic for the times.

We would like to thank our co-hosts, San Bernardino County Medical Society and Ellen Empire Health Plan. Also, we would like to thank Repugen for presenting this afternoon. Repugen is a business partner and they provide an all-in-one reputation management solution, including the ability to integrate into your EMI.

Arts members, you see your 60-day complimentary trial of Repugen’s basic plan and exclusive member rates. Please consider their services for your practice, and I hope you will find them useful.

As a reminder, all the slides from this presentation will be emailed to you at the conclusion of the webinar. To better assist us with future webinars, please be sure to complete the evaluation survey included in the mail. If you have any questions during the presentation, please put them into the chat box and we’ll be sure to get them answered.

Our speaker today is Miss Lauren Parr. Miss Parr is the product marketing manager at Repugen. Please join me in welcoming Lauren Parr. Thank you. Lauren?

Lauren Parr: Thank you so much, Dr. Singhvi. Thank you so much for the great introduction. Again, welcome everyone to today’s RCMA webinar on Reputation Matters: Managing Your Practice’s Online Reputation. As Dr. Singhvi mentioned, I’m Lauren Parr, the product marketing manager at Repugen. We are a healthcare reputation management platform that assists healthcare providers and practices in improving their online reviews, patient acquisition, retention, and engagement.

I’m also a contributing editor at the Forbes business communication council. As Dr. Singvhi mentioned, there are some great discounts and free trials for our CMA members.

So, before we jump into the webinar, I wanted to go over the objectives of this presentation so you really know why exactly we’re here today.

So, in this webinar we’ll discuss the importance of online reputation for healthcare providers and answer the following questions. What is online reputation? Why does reputation matter, in the great scheme of things and specifically for healthcare providers? And how can you improve your online reputation as a healthcare provider?

Video Transcript

So, to start off, I just want to make the point that in this digital age, You as doctors, you can’t only be doctors. Nowadays you really do have to be marketers, too. And I think that’s a very important point to make because running a healthcare business doesn’t only mean performing as a healthcare provider. You also need to market your practice to be successful and stay competitive.

So, if you have a general understanding or are currently marketing your practice, then you’re probably familiar with terms like paper click advertising, search engine optimization, direct fill marketing, or email campaigns. Those aren’t specifically going to be the marketing efforts that we’ll be talking about today, but I want you to understand that without a positive on the reputation, many of those marketing efforts that you’re spending time and money on could be rendered useless.

To put it bluntly, that’s because people or patients trust their peers more than they trust the polished marketing messages of your business.

So, having a great online reputation really is the foundation of a successful marketing strategy, and that’s one of the main takeaways that I want you to take from this presentation today.

So, you keep hearing me saying the words “online reputation,” and some of you may already be ahead of the curve and know exactly what I’m talking about when I say that, but I do want to take a moment to define exactly what it is for the purposes of this presentation.

By definition, online reputation is the way that a person or business is perceived – keyword perceived – based on the information that appears about them online. So, when we get down to it, we can say that all of the information that appears about you online ties into your online reputation, such as your website, advertisements, social media, PR, and your online reviews.

For the purpose of this presentation today, we’re going to mostly focus on arguably the most important aspect of your online reputation, which is your online reviews.

Nowadays, people use online reviews on a regular basis. I know I won’t even try a new restaurant if I’m not happy with what I see on the online reviews first, and I won’t go to a hotel without checking what other people say about it to make sure that there’s no bedbugs and the sheets are clean.

So, I can assure you that patients and businesses that are interested in your medical services are also checking your online reviews before they visit your practice, too. In fact, according to a 2019 consumer behavior study done by Bright Local, they found that 82 percent of people read online reviews for local businesses. 82 percent. That’s eight out of ten people. That just goes to show how important it is to have positive online review for your business since the majority of consumers are reading your online reviews.

And consumers aren’t only reading a couple of your reviews to make up their minds. Bright Local’s study also says that patients are reading an average of 10 online reviews before they feel able to trust a local business. So, not only do you need to have positive reviews, but you need to have enough positive reviews so that consumers can trust you.

Another stat from Bright Local says that only 53 percent of patients would even consider using a business that has less than four stars. Let’s just think about that for a second. That means if your business doesn’t have at least four stars on all of the review sites that consumers are checking, you could miss out on half of the prospective patients that are checking your reputation online. That’s a lot of missed business.

So, these stats come from Bright Local, where these findings apply to all types of businesses, including healthcare but not only healthcare. So, we at Repugen wanted to find out if the story was the same for the healthcare industry specifically.

So, what we did, we went and we ran our own market research where we serviced patients across the country to find out what factors determined how they select their healthcare providers. And our findings showed that 80 percent of patients check online reviews before selecting a healthcare provider. Again, there is that 8 out of 10 number.

63 percent of patients read 10 or more reviews in their provider selection process. Again, a majority of them read at least 10. And a third of patients will not visit a healthcare provider with poor online reviews.

So, I don’t know about you, but I think that these stats sound very familiar to me. So, I think we can see how important online reviews are to your reputation and success as a healthcare business.

So, now that we’ve answered the question of why online reputation matters, I want to introduce a common problem that we’ve seen, we at Repugen have seen, with practices that do not use a proactive approach when managing their online reputation.

So, based on proprietary data collected from over 200 providers with over 15,000 patient visits, we found that 95 percent of patients are actually satisfied with the care that they receive from their healthcare providers. However, these same providers only had an average online reputation of three out of five stars. Three out of five. If we were to give that a letter grade, that would mean that these same providers would be graded a D- or a 60 percent out of 100.

So, clearly that does not reflect how truly satisfied their patients really were, since the internal satisfaction ratings showed that 95 percent of them were happy. And just so you know, we’ve seen this as a common problem. Since when it comes to leaving an online review, unless a practice is using a proactive approach to obtain online reviews, the handful of patients that are likely to leave an online review are the ones that had a negative experience at the doctor’s office, while the patients that had a positive experience may likely just kind of go on with their life without even thinking about leaving an online review.

So, if you think about, when your online reputation does not accurately reflect how satisfied your patients are, not only is it unfair to you since you’re most likely missing out on prospective patients if your reputation is poor, but it’s also unfair to the patients that may not select you as their healthcare provider, since they could end up picking another physician that may not be the best fit for them.

So, the question here is how can you improve your online reputation? Well, I want to give you the fundamental steps today that you can follow to improve your online reputation and in part improve your business by acquiring more patients.

So, before we get into the steps of how to improve your reputation, I think it’s important for you to take a second to find out where your online reputation currently stands, so you really know where you’re starting from. To do that, I encourage you to Google your practice to see what online reviews and listings are already existing so that you know where your starting point is.

You can also use one of our proprietary resources at Repugen.com. It is a free resource and it’s called Reputally. Basically, it will generate a comprehensive report of your online reputation on the most relevant online review sites to healthcare. So, I want to just jump over and show you what that looks like. All you have to do is come to Reputally, enter your practice’s information, and within a day you will get a report that looks something like this. It will basically show you what your average star rating is across all the different review sites, how many reviews you currently have, how many recent reviews you have, and which healthcare review sites you are found on.

The report is pretty comprehensive, so there’s more to it than just that. But if you are interested in kind of finding a place to start, you can use that free resource on Repugen’s website.

And so once you’ve found out where your reputation stands, I just want to remind you that improving your online reputation on your own takes proactivity, patience, and perseverance. But if you follow these steps with diligence, you are bound to see results.

So, drum roll please. Here are the three steps that you can use to achieve a stellar reputation. We’ll dig deeper into each one of these as we go on in the presentation and I’ll give you tips on how you can implement these, but basically step one is to evaluate, claim, and update your listings. Step two is to build and develop your online reputation, and step three is to monitor and manage your reputation.

So, let’s start with defining a listing, since that does have to do with our step one here. To put it in simple words, a listing is the information and contact details of your business listed online. The most recognizable and popular business listing site is the Google Business listing, which I’ve included an example on the right side of this slide for your reference.

Other examples of listings include Facebook, Yelp, Yellow Pages, the Better Business Bureau, WebMD, Healthgrades. The list of listings really does go on and on.

So, in order for you to evaluate your listings, you again need to find where your listings already exist. To do that, again, you can start by Googling the name of your practice and healthcare providers to see what listings are already out there. And another resource that you can use in addition to the Reputally report that I showed you is Moz’s free business listing scanner. If you’re unfamiliar with Moz, they are one of the leading providers of search engine optimization resources and software. You can access their listing scanner at moz.com/products/local/check-listing, and you can see that I pasted that address on the slide here just because it is kind of a mouthful.

Basically, once you’re found all of your listings, the next step is to claim them. Each different listing site has different steps that should be followed in order to claim them, but you can find out the steps for each of them with the help of our friend Google. Repugen also has resources to help with this as well.

It is important that you claim your listings because if you don’t, you won’t be able to edit or update them, which is something that plays a big factor in your search optimization or basically how patients are able to find you online.

And so finally, the last step is to update your listings to ensure that your business information for each one is consistent. Some information that you must add to your listings is your business name, address so patients can find you, and phone number so patients can call you.

Some other components that I suggest you add to your listing are your website URL, a description of your business, images, and links to your social media.

So, I first wanted to go through some general rules for listings that you should follow when implementing this first step. The first rule is consistency is key, particularly for the consistency of your name, address, and phone number, which is known as your NAP or your nap.

It’s very important to make sure that all of your listings show your business name, address, and phone number exactly the same on each listing, and this is because Google and other search engines just do not like it if your business information is not consistent. And if they aren’t consistent, it can lead to your web pages not ranking as high as they could in the search results, meaning that patients may not be able to find you.

So, be sure to pay close attention to how you abbreviate any words on your listings. For example, are you going to use Road and you’re going to spell out the word Road, or are you going to use the abbreviation Rd? California spelled out or CA? You may think of these as the same, just as I do, but to search engines, they will not consider them to be consistent, and that could negatively affect your search rankings. So, just a little pointer there.

Another rule is if you have multiple locations and multiple providers, create multiple listings. This will help you rank higher in the local search results for the prospective listings, and it is best practice for your business’s SEO. Basically, the more places where patients can find your business’s locations and providers, the better, just as long as they are consistent.

And the very last listing rule is one that is an ongoing project, so claim it, update it, manage it. The more relevant places that your business is listed and the more consistent they are with each other and the updates to your practice, the easier it is for search engines to find your business and the more confidence they have ranking it on the search results so that patients can find you.

So, to recap, following the first step of how to achieve a stellar reputation is very important because the quality, consistency, and spread of your listings online have a direct impact on your local search engine rankings. And search engine rankings and results leads to web traffic; web traffic leads to patient visits, and of course patient visits lead to increased revenue.

So, given the importance of this foundational piece of the local search marketing puzzle, it’s well worth the time to be sure that your listings are accurate, complete, and discoverable on the most important platforms.

So, you may be asking, what are the most important platforms? Well, according to the findings of our Repugen 2020 patient survey, we found that the most important review platforms for patients are Google, WebMD, Yelp, Healthgrades, Facebook, and RateMD, in that order.

So, if you’re going to spend your time cleaning your listings on any one of these sites because maybe you just don’t have the time to do it on all of them, you should focus on Google, as they are the #1 trusted listing platform by patients and are also the most heavily indexed or most heavily trusted by the search engines.

So, now that we know how to evaluate, claim, and update your business listings, let’s move on to the second step of achieving a stellar online reputation, which is to build and develop your reputation.

From our experience as a reputation management company focused specifically on the healthcare industry, we’ve found that the best way to improve healthcare organizations on the reputation is to implement a proactive approach to get feedback from your patients after their visit and reviews for your practice. After all, the best way to overcome any negative reviews is to overwhelm them with positive reviews.

So, you may be asking, “Well, how can I do that? How can I get more online reviews?” And the answer is a very simple, “Just ask.” Ask for feedback from your patients. Ask for your reviews. Nowadays all sorts of businesses are asking customers for feedback to help them get more online reviews. To show you what I mean, I pasted just a few of the feedback requests that I have received in just the past week from a few different businesses. So, basically, whether it be asking your patients to get their feedback on their experience in person, via email, snail mail, text or calls, it really is vital to get their feedback after their visit in a simple and timely manner.

This process will really help you to pinpoint what your strengths and weaknesses are so that you can take the steps needed to improve your practice or continue to expand upon the things that you guys are doing well and that your patients are happy with.

This in turn will really improve your overall patient satisfaction in the long run and will result in even more positive reviews.

So, I do want to go ahead and show you an example of how you can do this. This is actually an after visit example of Repugen. I do have permission to show this. But this is basically an email that a patient had received after their visit with their provider. Basically here, the survey asks the patient how they would rate their experience. So, just like recommended, if the patient had a positive experience and they rate on this survey positively, by default that is an 8, 9, or 10, so I’ll just select a 10 for today’s purposes.

Basically, the patient is gonna be led here to leave any internal feedback about why their experience was so great. So, maybe they just said that the doctor was great. Then they can go ahead and click Submit, and once they do that, they’re led to an area where they can paste that feedback that they left on any of the review sites that you would like to improve your reputation on. So, let’s say I want to leave this as a review on Google. I can just click to Google and basically it’s gonna lead the patient directly where they can past that feedback, and then leave their star rating, and then all they have to do here is click “post.”

So, this is really helping for those patients that may have had a great experience and may not have left an online review because they just really didn’t think about it and probably would’ve went on with their life. But if you’re asking patients to leave an online review for you, if they were really satisfied with their experience, they’re more likely to go ahead and do it for you because otherwise, they might not’ve thought about it.

So, that is how you can help to get more online reviews from the patients that had a positive experience. And then let’s say on the other hand a patient didn’t have such a great experience and they rate anywhere from let’s say a zero through 7 by default. So, I’ll go ahead and just click a 1 for today’s demonstration.

Basically, again, what’s gonna happen is the patient is led to an area where they can leave any feedback for the practice or provider. So, maybe they just said that the wait time was just too long. So, the idea here is to give the patient opportunity to vent their frustrations within this feedback box so that they can sort it out internally.

So, once the patient goes ahead and clicks “submit,” that internal feedback that they left right there is gonna be sent directly to the practice, to whoever they want to go ahead and address that patient’s feedback so that they can call them and try to rectify the experience to help to retain them with the practice.

So, this is just one of the ways that you can help to improve your online reviews and patient satisfaction, but as said in the presentation, you really do want to give your patients an outlet to easily leave you online reviews and make it so that they’re receiving this right after their visit so that they remember to do so.

All right. So, a couple of things that I do want to caution you about when asking for online reviews from your patients. First, just be sure that you are following the specific review solicitation policies of any review site that you are asking your patients to leave reviews on.

For example, Yelp has a strict policy that has basically banned review soliciting altogether. And second, as a rule of thumb, just do not offer incentives or gifts in exchange for leaving reviews, as that is something that is unallowed by just about all of the review sites. If you do break any of these rules, you could potentially have your review sites taken down or banned, which really is not good for your search engine optimization. And basically, if that happens, patients may not be able to find you online.

So, it’s very important to follow the specific policies of each review platform that you are looking to improve your online reviews. And once you’ve implemented a proactive feedback and review solicitation system at your business, it will take some time to see results, but just remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day. But if you keep up your efforts and have a little patience, you really are bound to see great results for your practice, and this will help you to get more patients, improve your revenue, and you’ll be able to pinpoint why patients are satisfied or if they are unsatisfied, what the reason is for that.

And so once you do start to see your positive reviews come, it’s a really good idea to further spread them within your other marketing channels. For example, adding them to your website as testimonials or to your social media profiles as content posts is a great way to engage with your audience and show them the real things your patients have to say about you.

Again, remember that patients really do trust their peers more than they trust the polished marketing messages of your practice, so if they’re able to see things like this on your website of real patient online reviews, then they’ll be able to really trust you guys and potentially visit your practice.

And so the very last step to achieving a stellar online reputation is to monitor and manage your reputation. So, to accomplish the first part of that, which is to monitor your reputation, I have a resource that you can use to set up email notifications anytime your business name is mentioned on the web. So, anytime a patient leaves you a review on any of your review listings, you’ll be notified. That resource is Google Alerts.

If you aren’t currently using Google Alerts, all you have to do is go to Google.com/alerts and create an alert using a search term that you would like to be notified about, which could be the name of your business and providers. So, anytime anything is posted on the web about your business or providers, you’ll receive an email alert about it.

So, this way you’ll be able to monitor and check every time a new review is written about you so that you can really track the results of your reputation management efforts.

And finally, you’ll want to manage your reputation, and the big question that comes to mind when managing your reputation is whether or not you should be responding to your online reviews. So, there is a bit of controversy on whether or not you should respond to patient reviews. I understand that controversy, since if you do not respond to reviews in the right way, it could be counterproductive and end up in disgruntled patients and some bad PR for your practice. However, 45 percent of consumers say that they are more likely to visit a business that responds to their negative reviews.

So, responding to reviews can help build a trusting relationship between you and your patients.

Whether you receive a positive or a negative review, it’s important to respond to that review in an effort to show your patients and search engines that your commitment to customer satisfaction is great. I say search engines because Google actually confirmed that responding to reviews boosts your search engine optimization rankings.

So, if you don’t have time to respond to all of your reviews, I highly recommend at least responding to the negative ones so that when prospective patients are reading through your reviews, they see that you care enough to amend the concerns of other patients.

So, since responding to negative reviews could backfire, as I said, if you don’t handle them in the right manner, I wanted to give you some quick and easy pointers on how you can respond to them effectively. First, thank the patient for leaving a review. It really is important that they feel appreciated for taking the time to leave feedback for your practice.

Second, you’re going to want to address the patient’s concerns. It’s crucial that you show that you’re sorry that things did not go the way that the patient hoped.

And third, try to move the conversation offline. You can either tell the patient that you will contact them directly to discuss the situation further, or give your patient your contact information so that they can reach out to you to discuss the issue at their convenience.

When you do get in touch with the patient, try and do your best to rectify the situation in order to mend the relationship. Really try to understand their frustrations.

I also want to take a moment to give you some pointers on what you can avoid in your negative responses. Basically, you’re going to want to avoid getting defensive. Remember that your response will be read by other prospective patients that are checking out your practice, so even if the review frustrates you and you don’t agree with what that reviewer is saying, and I understand sometimes it’s just totally out of left field, it’s just important for you not to get defensive or angry in your response.

Also, you’re gonna want to make sure that you are not mentioning any protected health information in your review response to ensure that you aren’t breaking any HIPAA guidelines.

So, it’s important to know that a negative review can happen, regardless of the quality of your work or how many patients are truly satisfied with your practice. In fact, some studies show that having some negative reviews can actually help patients trust that your business is real. So, don’t panic if you receive negative reviews. Just remain calm and respond to them in a sensitive manner so that prospective patients see how much you care.

So, now that we’ve covered the steps of how you can improve your online reputation, I wanted to wrap up with some of the best practices for online reputation that we went over today. So, remember to update and manage your listings on an ongoing basis. Remember to implement a simple process to obtain feedback and reviews. Remember you need to ask for it. Again, show off your stellar online reviews as testimonials so that you’re able to leverage your stellar reputation.

And then again, the best way to overcome negatives is to overwhelm them with positive online reviews.

You’re going to want to monitor your reputation regularly to ensure that you are responding, and when you do respond, respond to your online reviews with tact.

All right. And in case you aren’t already aware, Repugen does have a partnership with Riverside County Medical Association. Repugen is an all-inclusive reputation management platform that will help you to streamline the processes that we went over today in this presentation and will help you to manage and improve your online reputation and more.

So, since we are partnered with RCMA, we’d like to offer the members exclusive access to discounts on our Repugen plans. As Dr. Singhvi mentioned, there is a 60-day free trial of our Repugen basic plan, and we also do have some discounts on the different plans, as you can see on the screen right here.

So, if you’d like to learn more about Repugen, you can visit our website at www.repugen.com, or if you’d like to take advantage of these discounts, feel free to email us at info@repugen.com. Call us at the number that you see on the screen, 866-246-7891, or you can fill out a contact form on our website and let us know that you are a member of our CMA, and we’ll help you to obtain your unique discount code.

All right. So, that’s pretty much it. Thank you so much, everyone, for tuning in, and good luck if you start on your reputation improvement journey. And remember, if you are interested in learning about Repugen, feel free to visit our website. Again, it’s www.repugen.com. Thank you.

Dr. Singhvi: I have one question for Miss Parr. This is Dr. Singvhi. Is your reputation is also being monitored by the clients?

Lauren Parr: The reputation of Repugen?

Dr. Singhvi: Repugen, yes. They also write reviews?

Lauren Parr: Absolutely, yes. So, our clients do leave online reviews and we are basically using Repugen to even monitor our own reviews, since we do know how important it is for all businesses.

Dr. Singhvi: All right.

Female: All right, so are there any other questions from the participants?

Jackie: I have a question. My name’s Jackie.

Female: Go ahead, Jackie.

Jackie: So, there was great feedback on how to respond to reviews and also to respond to negative reviews. How do you deal with those – I’m gonna put it quote in quote, “fake” reviews, where you don’t have that patient that mentioned something. There was never a patient in your office by the name given, or for example, they happened to leave the review on the wrong physician because there was a common name. A simple mistake like that. How would you respond to that, or would you even respond?

Lauren Parr: Yes. So, great question. This is actually something that we see is pretty common. So, there’s a few steps to take here when something like this happens. First, what you’re gonna want to go ahead and do is respond to that online review in basically a similar way that you want to respond with tact.

But what you’re gonna want to do is respond and say, “Hey, thank you so much for your online review. It looks like this online review may have been mistakenly left for our practice, but if you want to go ahead and give us a call, then we can try and help you direct it to the right place.” That way, again, when patients are seeing that or prospective patients are taking a look at that online review, they can see that that online review wasn’t actually meant for your practice, and then hopefully you will be able to get in touch with that patient to have them remove it.

And then in the meantime, you also will be able to flag that online review on that particular review platform, so basically if you flag that review on Yelp or Google, Facebook, whichever review site it was left on, it then can go into basically that online review site’s – you know, their responsibility to remove that review for you. So, they will basically go through a process to determine whether it was a review for your practice or not, and then they can remove that review for you.

So, that process does take some time, so that is why we do recommend responding to that online review first, and then wait for that review site to help you with getting that review taken down.

Female: Thank you. Is there another question? Lauren, I have a question.

Lauren Parr: Yes.

Female: Most of the health plans obviously do patient satisfaction surveys as part of their pay for performance or star ratings, etc. Do you have physician offices utilizing Repugen to be able to report their patient satisfaction surveys to the health plans? Is that an alternative?

Lauren Parr: We do, yes. So, we also offer patient satisfaction surveys as well, so if they were unhappy with the current provider that they had or if they wanted to automate it, if they were only doing paper satisfaction surveys, they could use Repugen to start sending those out. But we do also have many that are using it in tandem with their patient satisfaction surveys, and one of the things that I’ve seen them do is they will take the responses from those surveys, basically see which patients responded pleasantly to those surveys, and then send out a Repugen review request after that.

So, we do have a few different types of emails and post-visit texts that can go out to patients. So, instead of asking them how their experience was in that email or text, it can just say, “Hey, thanks so much for visiting, we’re pleased to see that you left a positive score on your patient satisfaction survey, can you leave us an online review?” And then it will have the links to the different review sites there.

So, there is a few different options, and I hope that that answers your question.

Female: It did. I think that’s a very important piece for all practices to know that. Thank you.

Lauren Parr: Absolutely. Thank you. I appreciate it.

Female: Dr. Singhvi, I shall turn it over to you.

Dr. Singhvi: Yes. Thank you, Lauren. Delores, Marquita, Robert, for editing this webinar and sharing Lauren’s insights and to our cohosts, San Bernardino County Medical Society and Inland Empire Health Plan. Thank you to everyone who joined us for this presentation. Please don’t forget to complete your relation survey. I think you can listen to this webinar at leisure and use all the good things which Lauren had to say and learn. Have a good rest of the day. Thank you once again.