Reputation Management

Online reputation management is the process of preventing and repairing threats to your online reputation, but it also involves building a strong positive presence. It is done by tracking what is written about you and your practice and using techniques to address or moderate that information.

The first step is to know what is being said. Then learn what you can and cannot do about negative reviews and work to build a favorable online presence.

    Discover what is being said
    Know what you can do
    Build a positive presence

Discover and monitor what is being said

– Visit popular physician ratings websites and monitor your reviews.
– Conduct web searches on yourself and your practice regularly.
– Monitor yourself by setting up Google Alerts.
– Review sites usually include basic info about each physician, such as education, training, specialty, location, office hours, etc., and allow you to submit info for your profile. Make sure it is up-to-date and work to keep it current.

Some popular ratings sites are:
Angie's List 
Healthcare Reviews 

Know what you can and cannot do about negative reviews:

So what do you do if a patient slams you and your practice on one of the ratings sites?

–  Examine the review closely. Can you determine directly or indirectly who wrote it? Is it really from a patient – or could it be a disgruntled former employee? Are there any details that help you recognize a specific patient or incident?
–  Consider the review impartially. Is it possible there could be some validity to the comments expressed? Could this be an opportunity to make some changes in office procedures?
–  Because of health care privacy laws, you cannot respond directly to a patient's online review. Simply acknowledging publicly that the complaining party is a patient breaches confidentiality and violates HIPAA laws.
–  If the review even hints that the patient is considering legal action, the Texas Medical Liability Trust (TMLT) urges you to contact your medical liability insurance carrier and attorney. Keep in mind that anything you say in response to the post could come back to haunt you in court.
–  In other situations, contact the patient personally to discuss his or her concerns. This should be done in person or over the phone as quickly as possible. Do not use email. Find out exactly why the patient is upset. Just as you would in dealing with other complaints about your practice, show good customer service and work to resolve the problem. Often this personal contact is enough for the patient to edit or remove the negative review. If you help the patient, he or she may even follow up with a positive posting.
–  If you are not sure who the patient is, TMLT provides guidance on how you could reply with a general statement. Again, a direct reply should be avoided. Never respond in anger or when feeling defensive. Refer to the Resources section below for TMLT's guidance.
–  Contact the site owner. Some review sites allow you to flag a posting as inappropriate and then may consider removing it. Others may respond to a level-headed note asking them to decide if the post complies with the site's terms of use.
–  See the Physician Profiling/Reputation Websites chart with hyperlinks to several sites' policies on creating a physician profile, requesting review or removal of an inappropriate posting, FAQs, etc.
–  To learn more, see the link to TMLT’s Online Reputation Management for Physicians under the Resources section.


Build a positive online presence:

–  Use good customer service principles to prevent a simple misunderstanding from blowing up into a negative posting. Make sure your staff alerts you when there is an unhappy patient so you can immediately address the situation.
–  Develop an effective practice website that showcases the most basic info about the practice, that works on any electronic device, is attractive, and is customized with photos of the actual practice setting and staff.
–  Keep in mind that the Texas Medical Board has rules (Chapter 164) regarding physician advertising. If you are considering using patient testimonials, please review TMA’s guidance on testimonials in advertising.
–  Establish your own patient satisfaction surveys to monitor how well you and your office staff are doing.
–  “Claim your profile" on the rating websites. Most review sites allow physicians to establish their profiles with photos, a description of the practice, credentials, and other info. Upload a high resolution head shot. Spend time on developing your bio. Later, post health care articles to educate patients, which will move your reference up in the search engine.
–  Since the great majority of your patients are pleased with the care and service they receive, it would be to your advantage to encourage (but not pressure) them to share their experience online.
–  Consider a handout or poster that respectfully asks your satisfied patients to visit one of the popular rating sites to post an online review.
–  As more positive posts are added, negative reviews then get pushed further down the search engine rankings, meaning they have less impact. Prospective patients surfing for info about you will encounter a more complete and balanced picture of you and your practice.
–  As a physician, you can weigh in as a credible source with a professional Facebook page, blog, YouTube presence, or LinkedIn or Twitter account, but you should be wary of one-on-one communication with patients via social media for privacy reasons.
–  For guidance on using social media and info on marketing your practice, see links under Resources below.



Physician Profiling/Reputation Websites chart (updated July 2018) – Info and hyperlinks to several websites' policies for creating and updating a physician profile, requesting review or removal of an inappropriate posting, FAQs, and more.

Texas Medical Board (TMB):
Rules on Physician Advertising, Chapter 164 

Texas Medical Liability Trust (TMLT):
Online Reputation Management for Physicians from The Reporter 2015 Volume 1, beginning on page 8.

Texas Medical Association (TMA):
Marketing Your Practice 
Social Media Resource Center  
Webinar - Getting Your Practice on the First Page of Google

TMA-endorsed vendor – Marketing and reputation management services
Officite is a TMA-endorsed member benefit that provides services in practice website design, search engine ranking, online reputation management, social media, and more.

American Medical Association (AMA):
AMA Code of Medical Ethics under Consent, Communication Opinion 2.3.2 Professionalism in the Use of Social Media
Create a personal online physician brand that works
Web-savvy patients shape physicians' digital do's and don'ts

Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB):
Model Guidelines for the Appropriate Use of Social Media and Social Networking in Medical Practice

Kevin Pho, MD: on Reputation Management on Social Media

News Articles:
Physician Newsletter, Take control of your online reputation, June 2018 issue, page 4
Physician Newsletter, Tips for building a positive online reputation, Oct 2017 issue, page 4
Physician Newsletter, Manage your reputation using today's technology, June 2017 issue, page 2
Physician Newsletter, Know your online reputation, Feb 2017 issue, page 4