How to Manage Your Reputation and Stay HIPAA Compliant

healthcare industryFor the healthcare industry, a better online reputation can get more patients in the door can even help to avoid malpractice. Here are some best practices that all healthcare professionals should know about managing their online reputation and remaining fully HIPAA Compliant.

A doctor in a competitive field could lose patients if they have bad reviews. They could get less referrals because doctors also read other doctors reviews. They do not want to refer their own patients to doctors with a poor reputation, especially since they are essentially “vouching” for that doctor. Poor reviews = a perceived poor doctor.

If a physician is running a marketing campaign (direct mail, email, TV or radio, ads) and asks prospects to come to their website (discounted crowns or plastic surgery), be aware that most of these visitors will check out their reviews that are not on their website. In fact, 44.5% will first read reviews on review sites when deciding about a doctor (compared to 19.7% that just look at their website to make a decision).doctors reputation

Monitor Your Reviews to Stay HIPAA Compliant

Many people can look up doctors from their insurance providers and will consider reviews before making their selection. Fact is, new practices competing with entrenched professionals are desperate. Those that focus on getting good reviews (from their few initial patients) are taking patients away from established practices.

Monitoring and addressing negative reviews in a timely manner can minimize liability. For example, if someone posts a negative review that states they got an infection or other issues involving a doctor, and the doctor didn’t respond or address the issue (especially if repeated), it could prove evidence and increase their malpractice liability (not like they didn’t know it was happening).

Where to Begin?

First, go search your name and practice and see what reviews come up. Read your reviews and gauge the ratings. That could be a good or bad experience – since you will be compared to your peers. Next, ask your existing patients to write reviews. You could email them and invite them to complete a short online survey about their experience at the office (you can’t use their name without their permission, but they can post their reviews themselves. You also have valuable stats (such as “4.9 out of 5 patients ratings say, we are amazing”) you can display on your website.

However, following up and asking for feedback and being consistent (rating and quality of ratings matter) is difficult and time-consuming, so using an online review tool makes it much easier and saves you hours and money. When choosing a tool to help you manage your online reputation, make sure they choose one that is HIPAA compliant and even better if it is certified.

Online Reputation for doctorsRatings Matter To Remain HIPAA Compliant

You should keep a diligent eye on your ratings on all the different sites. There are over 600 major sites—including the general ones (Google, Yellow Pages, Facebook, Yelp) and a lot that are specific to medical practice. If you are using a review management system, you should be notified if you receive a bad review so you can reply quickly and appropriately to satisfy the patient–they may even change or update their review when they see how responsive you are.

Most reputations without management systems result in poor reviews since usually, it’s the angry patients that post reviews.  However, by proactively engaging all your patients, you are more likely to get a balanced view of your reputation (which is typically positive, so don’t be afraid of asking!)

You should always thank your patients for their positive reviews. This also shows that you are engaged with your patients and are interested in their feedback. People like that!

If anything negative does appear, address it quickly and completely (and keep some documentation about your responses – another important feature your tool should help you with).

Individual Professional Reputation

Some websites are doctor-specific, not location-specific. Doctors should monitor and manage their “individual professional reputation”.  Additionally, doctors can (and should) create their own Facebook profile where they can build up their medical practice reputation.   The individual reputation is portable and will come in handy when applying for new positions.

If you use an online review and reputation management software system, make sure it is HIPAA compliant – better if the software is HIPAA certified compliant. Nobody wants a $50,000 penalty from the HIPAA police.

To learn more about how to manage your online reviews and and generate more reviews for your healthcare practice, contact ReviewInc for a personalized One-on-One demo.