It is true in healthcare, in life, and in business that a milligram of prevention is worth a kilogram of cure. In the healthcare industry, more so than in most others, your reputation does in fact precede you—it defines you. As a physician, your reputation is built not only on the positive outcomes you provide for your patients but also on the strength of the bonds you build with patients through positive experiences, and then through their enthusiasm to share their experience, whether it be perceived as positive or negative. Your reputation is further illustrated through the dynamics of your staff, your alliances with referring physicians, and your reputation among other health-care industry professionals.
The term “word of mouth” was coined before we had keyboards. Now, it is easier than ever, with the “stroke of a key,” to praise or hurt a physician’s reputation. Everyone gets to vote. In comparing a one-star “my pasta was cold” review that a restaurant might receive to a one-star “this doctor and his entire office are incompetent” review a medical practice might receive, it is clear that both reviews take about the same amount of time to create but have vastly different impacts.
This is great news—if you choose to leverage this opportunity to grow your practice. Elevating your online footprint (reputation) is a central part of a comprehensive medical marketing and communication strategy (MCS). Your MCS defines and illustrates your values and commitments (to your patients, your practice, and your team), and it establishes a plan (tactics, timelines, and processes outlining how you are elevating your unique specialties and distinctive approaches to enforce your reputation among your patients, your potential patients, and your health-care peers and affiliates).