Recent Google+ Local Changes May Pose New Challenges for Physicians

Google recently bid Adieu to Google Places in favor of Google+ Local (To read more view our blog post). These changes are meant to improve users’ experience, including the revocation of anonymously posted reviews. To ensure the accuracy of reviews, users must use their real names in order to post a review. For most industries, this is a positive adjustment. For healthcare, it poses a dilemma.

You’re wondering, what’s the big deal? Well, consider these hypothetical reviews supplied in Dr. Jeffrey Segal’s post:

  • “Dr. X. did an excellent job with my facelift. My friends think I look a few years younger, but, no-one knows why. I just told them I started an exercise program and lost a few pounds.”
  • “Dr. Y. was a lifesaver when I was seriously considering taking my life. He put me on the right medication for what I now understand is Bipolar Disorder Type I. I didn’t realize how close I was to the point of no return.”

With anonymity revoked, patients may be less likely to post reviews with sensitive information. Additionally, in accordance with HIPAA, doctors cannot acknowledge that a review poster was a patient. This poses a predicament when replying to posts with a patient’s name attached.

This does not mean that Google+ Local Pages are a lost cause. It is as important as ever to keep your practice’s Page up-to-date and to encourage patients to post positive reviews. However, a new level of discretion is required when responding to reviews. As HCA Web Services has always advised, never discuss specific patient information. Instead, if a review warrants a response ask the reviewer to call your office to discuss further.

Read more about this issue at Kevin MD: http://www.kevinmd.com/blog/2012/06/google-local-physician-reviews-barrier-patients.html

What are your thoughts about the latest Google updates?

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