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How to Protect Your Online Reputation as a Dermatologist?

October 26th, 2018 | Online Marketing and Management

The internet is a shining beacon of modern day freedom of expression and information for all individuals in the world. Due to this, a wealth of information about good practicing dermatologists is available here.  Sadly, the World Wide Web is also home to tons of misinformation and is prone to errors.

Individuals have so much freedom online that dermatology professionals may sometimes find it difficult to safeguard their online reputations. Several rating and ranking websites, dedicated to the healthcare sector have cropped up on the web.

These sites are akin to a double-edged sword. While on the one hand, they help dermatologists create favorable public opinion through positive word of mouth, on the other hand, the same sites can be the reason for trouble due to human biases and prejudices.

Classification of Online Rating Sites
You can group the websites that rate doctors into four categories.

  • No-fee sites – They offer information about enlisted doctors free of cost to visitors. Their revenue depends upon sponsored ads on their site or charging doctors listing-fees. On such sites, the dermatologist has greater control over content posted about him or her because of the financial angle to the relationship with the site’s administrators.
  • Paid sites – These websites charge a fee from the patient to obtain information about doctors. Dermatologists have no control over information shared on these sites including reviews, feedback etc. because these sites don’t build any relationship with the doctors listed on their websites.
  • Insurance Companies – They refer doctors on their websites and rate each listed doctor based on their own criteria.
  • Government Sites – They list the doctors licensed to practice within their jurisdiction.

The Rating Process

All websites that rank/rate doctors adhere to one of the following methods to arrive at their ratings.

  • Weighted criteria rating – Different weights are assigned to each criterion considered relevant education, work experience, specialization etc. They may go as far as to rate the school where the dermatologist studied medicine. They can dig up any lawsuits that the dermatologist settled in the past and reduce his or her ratings due to that.
  • Feedback based ratings – These sites base ratings on patient feedback. They invite the respective dermatologist’s patients to rate him or her on select criteria. Based on feedback from all the patients, each doctor’s average rating is posted online.
  • Hybrid approach – Here both the previous methods are combined to arrive at a rating. This method could be considered more in-depth as opposed to the other two.

Despite these multiple methods, a dermatologist’s ratings swing in the direction of the patients’ opinions making the entire system highly unreliable and subjective.

Being Proactive to Escape Online Bias

For a dermatologist, a proactive approach is the best way to avoid becoming infamous online. The number of patients doing an online reference check of their doctor is increasing every day. What they read on the internet can affect whom they choose to go to with their health problems.

  • The first big hurdle in the dermatologist’s path is making sure that all the popular websites carry updated information about his or her practice. Majority of the sites don’t have a system in place to request for updates. The onus rests on the dermatologists to inform the websites as and when any information available online is to be revised.
  • Patients often confuse doctors with similar names. This can lead to incorrect reviews or ratings being posted.
  • A patient may post a biased or unfair review based on his or her opinion of the treatment. To see the complete picture, the dermatologist should be able to explain his or her actions in the context referred by the unhappy patient.

Damage control is only part of the reason to be probative. Offering information upfront to websites can help dermatologists restrict opportunities for wrong information being posted online.

Difficulties of Anonymous Feedback

One of the key aspects of the internet is the level of anonymity it offers. Online users can sometimes post inaccurate, irresponsible, even untrue statements online. The usage of aliases is also common online. Keeping their own reputation and identity hidden, they can easily tarnish another’s name in a very public manner.

Google is leading the drive against such occurrences by making it mandatory to declare your actual name while posting reviews on Google Business. All businesses and professionals depending upon customer feedback may welcome this measure, but it poses a new problem for the healthcare sector.

Patients prefer to remain anonymous while discussing their private health issues on public forums like the internet. Only five percent of patients disclose their complete names while reviewing a doctor online. Google’s initiative may create challenges in case of dermatologists because many of their patients could be unwilling to disclose their names while giving feedback.

Hire Online Image Consultants

Dermatologists planning to establish themselves in any regions cannot overlook the power of the internet and their dependence on digital marketing.

  • He or she requires a formal website, which emphasizes how good the dermatologist is at work; one that has a positive and lasting impact on visitors.
  • The website should be optimized for search so that it ranks high in local searches.
  • The dermatologist should take proactive steps to ensure that his or her reputation on third party websites is secure.

Search engine optimization companies and image consultants can carry out these tasks in an effective and pocket friendly manner. Taking the support of these professionals can ensure that the dermatologist’s online reputation remains intact at all times without compromising on professional integrity or standards.

Years of hard work go into building a good reputation. But one viral bad review online can weaken the same reputation in seconds. With the patient’s comfort level with the internet growing each day, a dermatologist will be better off taking proactive steps to ensure his or her online reputation remains intact. In this scenario, prevention is the best form of cure.

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