These sites contribute greatly to your online reputation, especially because 92 percent of consumers regularly check reviews online before making a purchase or service decision. A study conducted by the University of Michigan found that 59 percent of people find those sites “somewhat important” when choosing a doctor.
The reputation of your practice or physician can be greatly impacted by online rating sites. What people are saying about your practice can have a lasting effect in a matter of seconds; and, unfortunately, there is nothing stopping somebody from ‘venting’ anonymously if a doctor on your staff had a bad day.
It is important to claim and properly manage your profiles on these sites to manage your online reputation. Proper management of these sites can protect your practice or physicians from fraudulent users claiming your profiles while improving your search engine optimization (SEO) and generating new business for your practice.
The three largest sites for online reputation management in healthcare are Healthgrades, RateMDs and Vitals. Each site, like most things, has positives and negatives.
Healthgrades is an online database of doctors, dentists and hospitals that has over 100 million users. When a patient searches Google for your practice, Healthgrades will likely show up on the first page of Google.
On Healthgrades, potential patients can search by doctor name, office name, speciality, condition or procedure. While Healthgrades creates physicians’ profiles based on information from government and commercially available services, physicians can claim and edit these profiles.
Once a profile is claimed, you will have the ability to add photos, age, gender, information about specialties, a physician’s background such as when they graduated and information on scheduling appointments. You can claim a practice’s profile, but the main focus is on individuals.
On Healthgrades, patients can complete patient satisfaction surveys about a practice or physician. The surveys evaluate the office and staff, wait time, experience with the doctor and likelihood of recommending the doctor to family and friends.
RateMDs includes over one million doctor profiles and has over two million posted reviews. It was one of the first rating sites for physicians, but has recently undergone a major redesign, upgrading the look and featureset to fall more in line with Vitals and Healthgrades. More than 100 million potential patients are using this site for information before making huge health care decisions according to the site.
Along with the website redesign, RateMDs has added more requirements for physicians to claim their profiles. To claim a profile, you will need the physician’s driver’s license no or a bill statement (a major pain).
RateMDs allows patients to rate their physicians on their staff, punctuality, helpfulness, and knowledge. They are also able to leave personal comments about their experience, and they can do this anonymously.
When patients search for a physician by area, they will be provided with the 200 top-ranked physicians in that area. In order to move up the list getting closer to the top, physicians need more reviews that have higher rankings.
Similar to Healthgrades and RateMDs, Vitals is an online database of medical professionals where patients can search for healthcare options. Patients can search based on specialty, doctor or condition. Filters can be applied for accepted insurance and location.
Vitals also has has advertising on its site. Large hospital groups will buy these advertising spots and they will show up next to your reviews. These ads may confuse patients and lure them away from your practice listings.
It is free for physicians to claim their profile on Vitals, but Vitals offers “enhanced” options for profiles when a fee is paid.
Reviews are compiled with information such as wait time, staff, bedside manner and promptness. Patients can also leave personalized messages about their experience. Patients can leave reviews anonymously, but Vitals doesn’t allow reviews that aren’t constructive.