Positively Online: How to get your physicians on board

You may know how to build and manage an online presence for your practice, but are your physicians left in the dark? Some physicians are resistant to the idea of being online, but this is primarily due to a lack of understanding. This is where you come in. Use the points below to start a conversation with your physicians about the importance of a positive online presence.

“Patients are searching online before selecting a provider, and a bad reputation will affect your bottom line.”

  • Explain that what patients see online will affect their decision to visit the practice. If physicians have a negative reputation online, it will decrease their patient load and revenue.
  • Share the following statistics with your physicians:
    • 59% of consumers searched for health information online last year
    • 76% of consumers trust online reviews as much as recommendations from friends and family
    • 53% of consumers say reputation is most important when choosing a doctor
    • A one star rating decrease on an online review site results in a 10% decrease in revenue

Exercise: Show your physicians examples of negative reviews and ask what their perception is. Would they make an appointment with a physician whose patients had such negative experiences?

Extra reading: Even negative reviews can become positive experiences if handled in an appropriate way. See more ways to take advantage of online reviews: Physicians should leverage online reviews

“There are already profiles for you online.”

  • Explain to your physicians that sites like Google+ Local and Vitals comb the web and automatically generate profiles from information found online. If your division has a contract with Healthgrades, and many do, then your physicians already have Healthgrades profiles too.
  • Emphasize that 99% of the time, Healthgrades profiles will appear on the first page of search results when patients search for a physician by name. Also note that over 75% of the time, information on unclaimed profiles is incorrect and incomplete.
  • Let your physicians know there are only two sites, Vitals and Healthgrades that will have claimed profiles for individual physicians. Although other sites automatically generate individual profiles, you’re working to remove them so there is only one listing to represent the practice as a whole.

Exercise: Search for your physicians on Google and show them the profiles that come up. Are they claimed, correct and complete? It’s important for physicians to take ownership of existing profiles to protect their online reputation.

Extra reading: Due to a lack of understanding, some physicians think supporting an online presence is a waste of time. See this and other social media myths debunked: Is social media worthwhile for physicians?

“Patients are already leaving reviews about you online.”

  • Share our Reputation Management toolkit with your physicians so they understand the appropriate ways to address any kind of online review.
  • If your physicians are particularly concerned with having negative reviews, explain that there are a number of ways to combat a negative review. Most sites allow you to respond to reviews, Vitals will allow you to hide up to two reviews, and if there is a false review, you can contest it and have it removed.

Exercise: Show your physicians the online reviews they already have. Are they mostly positive or negative? Physicians should be aware of what patients are saying about them so they can make the necessary changes.

Extra reading: Since 2012, there has been a 78% increase in total number of online reviews for HCAPS. See more online review findings: HCAPS Online Review by the Numbers

“Our competitors are already online.”

  • The more robust your online presence is, the more likely it is your practice will show up in search results.
  • Most sites will suggest other profiles similar to yours, so if a potential patient isn’t finding the right information on your profile, they are likely to move on to a competitor. You don’t want to be put up against a competitor with a less than satisfactory profile.

Exercise: Google your practice’s name to see how it ranks in search results, then see where your competitors rank. Showing up in search results before competitors will help drive patients to your practice instead, thus increasing patient volume.

Extra reading: Most practices have experienced positive volume growth since taking charge of their online presence. See more about growing patient volume: Clinic Volume and New Patient Growth

The bottom line…

Even if you don’t want to be online, you already are, so you might as well do something positive with it by correcting your information and managing patient reviews.


Start with these points and build from there. Relate the conversation to what’s already online about your physicians. For more about an online presence for physicians, check out these extra reads:

2 thoughts on “Positively Online: How to get your physicians on board

  1. “Let your physicians know there are only two sites, Vitals and Healthgrades that will have claimed profiles for individual physicians”….I don’t understand this passage from the blog post. RateMDs and Doctor.com don’t allow practice profiles only practitioners. Please explain.

    • Thanks for reading, John! Yes, there are other sites that have profiles for physicians, but this post was directed towards participants in our training program, which only covers Vitals and Healthgrades. Many practice managers find it difficult to convey the importance of social media to physicians, and even more difficult to explain the benefits of our program. This post was meant to provide some talking points for practice managers to use to get the conversation going.

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