80% of Internet users (approximately 93 million Americans), have searched for a health-related topic online, according to a study released by the Pew Internet & American Life Project. Most people search online to look up information about a specific disease or medical problem (63%) or a particular medical treatment or procedure (47%). Diet, nutrition and vitamins (44%) and exercise or fitness information (36%) also are popular searches.
More and more people go online to research health topics, but also to select and compare doctors and healthcare providers, even to make appointments. News media, review sites, and social media now influence healthcare decision-making more than word of mouth referrals and recommendations from friends and neighbors.
83.3% of patients actually say they trust online ratings and reviews more than personal recommendations.
What do people see when they Google you or your practice online?
71% percent of patients use online reviews as the very first step to finding a new doctor. One in every two doctors even says that they read online reviews about themselves, but less than half (45.5 percent) of healthcare providers are proactively asking patients for reviews and online feedback.
Reputation Rhino provides review monitoring and review management solutions for the following popular review and customer complaint sites:
We also focus on monitoring healthcare review sites relevant to your business, such as HealthGrades, Vitals, Wellness.com, RateMds, WebMD, ZocDoc, etc.
As part of our Business Review Management Services for doctors and healthcare professionals, Reputation Rhino offers Review Monitoring, Reporting, Review Outreach & Response.
We Monitor all relevant reviews posted for your business on the most relevant business review and complaint sites every day.
We provide monthly Reporting with detailed metrics so you know who is reviewing your practice, when they are reviewing, what they are saying, and where they are posting their reviews so you can identify and respond to trends and allocate advertising and marketing resources accordingly.
We provide Review Outreach services to your existing patients. We target those individuals who have had a positive experience with your healthcare practice and direct these patients to leave reviews on the most visible online review sites so they can have maximum impact.
We also provide a Response to all relevant healthcare reviews by our team of experienced online reputation management professionals. This personalized service allows us to act as an extension of your office to acknowledge and recognize positive reviews and escalate and resolve problems posted online in an effort to convert negative patient reviews to positive reviews.
We can set alerts daily, weekly, or monthly upon request and change these settings easily
We can even share positive reviews (e.g., 4* or higher on Facebook and/or Twitter).
Nearly 88% of respondents are concerned about receiving negative reviews, and nearly two-thirds say a patient has posted a negative review about their practice.
Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 (CDA), broadly protects online service providers like social media companies and doctor rating and review websites from being held liable for transmitting or taking down user-generated content. Websites like HealthGrades, Vitals, Wellness.com, RateMds, WebMD, ZocDoc do not want to examine the facts or determine the truth of patient reviews — and they don’t have to thanks to the CDA.
For medical practices dealing with false and defamatory reviews from angry and sometimes unstable former patients, disgruntled business partners, and jealous ex-spouses, there are a few options available.
Internet Defamation / Cyber Libel
Internet libel cases are becoming increasingly common. Because reviewers are usually anonymous, the first step is usually to bring a “John Doe” case to unmask the identity of an anonymous poster and pursue a defamation (cyber libel) claim against the individual. If successful, a court order will usually be issued that would compel the review site to remove the defamatory review.
It is a costly and time-consuming process. It is usually more advantageous to proactively seek positive reviews than wage war against a single negative review, and online reputation management companies like Reputation Rhino are uniquely suited to be able to help reduce the visibility and minimize the impact of a negative review, however, sometimes legal action may be necessary.
Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, it is possible to remove a review (or a portion of a review) if the review is a violation of the copyright interest of another. The owner of the content can submit a takedown notice against a website owner and/or an Online Service Provider (e.g. ISP, hosting company etc.) if the copyright owner’s property appears online without permission.
Founded in 1998, Healthgrades is a popular health and wellness website with over 30 million visitors monthly. 64% of visitors to Healthgrades will make a doctor’s appointment within one week. As of June 2020, there are 8,486,143 reviews on HealthGrades.
Healthgrades checks reviews before they are published and will not publish a review that includes the following content:
Wellness.com is one of the most popular health and wellness sites online, with 3 million monthly visitors seeking healthcare services in their local area. Most of the visitors are women between the ages of 35-65. Approximately 2.1 million healthcare providers are listed in the Wellness.com database.
Patients are able to leave reviews using a 5-star rating scale, with five being the highest possible rating and leave a written review of their doctor or healthcare provider.
Providers may dispute the review by logging in or registering a new account with Wellness.com and clicking on the “report this review” link next to the review. Wellness.com will remove a flagged review until they hear from the individual who posted the original review, who has 30 days to respond. If they do not respond the review will remain off of the profile.
With a database of 1.7 million healthcare providers and over 2.6 million doctor reviews, RateMDs is a trusted source of online information. Prospective patients can search by specialty, such as Family G.P., Gynecologist/OBGYN, Dentist, Orthopedics/Sports, Cosmetic Surgeon, Dermatologist, Gastroenterologist, and more.
RateMDs uses a 5-star rating system, with five being the best. To rate a doctor or a healthcare facility on RateMDs you can search by name, city, or country with the ‘Find a Doctor’ or ‘Find a Facility’ search functionality.
If a doctor is not listed on the site, click ‘Add a Doctor’ to rate him or her. If your doctor is already on RateMDs, you can view their ratings and add your own by click on the ‘Rate This Doctor’ button.
You can claim your doctor profile on RateMDs to respond to patient reviews. If you are a healthcare professional and you are looking to remove a review on RateMDs because it is false or defamatory you can flag the review for further review by RateMDs moderators.
RateMDs reviews are usually removed because they contain “demonstrably inaccurate or out of date information… are libelous, or include accusations of unlawful activity, profanities or vulgarity, privacy violations, spam, or details that are not relevant or related to a patient’s visit.”
Vitals is a free online database of doctors and healthcare facilities with approximately 13 million visits by prospective patients monthly — 65% of whom are women. 81% of Vitals users will see a patient within 30 days.
Patients review their doctors and health care providers on a 5-point scale, with 5 being the highest. Reviewers can also rate several other practice-specific categories on the same 5-point scale.
Vitals.com reviews may be removed for comments that are offensive, malicious, inappropriate, sexually explicit in nature, or not made in good faith.
To remove a review on Vitals.com, click the Report Abuse button to flag the review for Vitals moderators. At one time, Vitals even allowed practitioners to remove two (2) reviews for any reason. This option is no longer available.
Over the past couple of years, Vitals.com has been less than responsive to removal requests and physicians and other healthcare providers are having issues updating their profile or reaching support personnel. If you are having problems with Vitals.com, it may be helpful to contact an online reputation management company.
Zocdoc is a popular online healthcare appointment booking service. Approximately six million people visit the site monthly.
There are over 1.9 million reviews on Zocdoc, but Zocdoc is different than other review sites.
Zocdoc includes both Patient Reviews and Partner Reviews. Patient Reviews are solicited after a Zocdoc appointment. Patients can also sign into their Zocdoc account and click “Leave Feedback” for any healthcare provider. Partner Reviews are collected by independent patient satisfaction survey providers.
Because Zocdoc is directly and proactively involved in the review collection it is able to get a wider range of reviews than other doctor review sites. In reality, a 2017 study showed that 85% are five-star reviews, 9% are four-star reviews, 2% are three-star reviews, 2% are two-star reviews, and 2% are one-star reviews.
Zocdoc moderates its reviews and may review a review for profanity, privacy violations, pricing specifics, the accuracy of treatment, or promotional content.
Unlike other review sites, doctors can choose to delete their profile. If the account is deleted, all information, including reviews from patients, will be permanently deleted.
According to a recent study by PwC, 41% of consumers said social media influences their choice of a specific hospital, medical facility or doctor; 45% said social media would affect their decision to get a second opinion; 34% said social media would influence their decision about taking a certain medication; and 32% said social media would affect their choice of a health insurance plan.
While many doctors are appropriately concerned about HIPAA and patient privacy, people are searching online for health and wellness information — especially in the aftermath of COVID-19 and are looking to healthcare professionals for education and information.
Reputation Rhino can help you turbocharge your online marketing strategy with social media management.
Our social media management team are online marketing experts who know, based on data analytics and experience, what to post, when to post, who to target and why and will help develop a consistent, clear and credible “voice” for you and your healthcare practice online.
At 2.23 billion, Facebook is the largest social media network in the world — bigger than WhatsApp (1.5 billion), Instagram (one billion) and Twitter (261 million). Facebook continues to reign in popularity over other social media channels. Even more importantly, 7 out of 10 consumers are more likely to use a local business, like a doctor or healthcare provider if there is information available on a social media site.
Facebook is a powerful tool to demonstrate expertise and thought leadership. It is a great way to engage existing patients and an affordable way to attract new patients.
More than three-quarters of healthcare providers (80.3 percent) feel maintaining a strong online reputation is extremely or very important; however, the majority do not know or aren’t sure how to positively affect the reputation of their medical practice.
Reputation Rhino is led by an extraordinary team of experienced legal, marketing, technology, and public relations experts and we can:
Doctors rely on trust more heavily than most professions. According to NRC Health, 37% of people will look for online reviews of doctors before asking for a referral from a friend or family member and 83.3% of those people looking for online doctor reviews have said that they trust those reviews, making a doctor’s online reputation critical to the success of their healthcare practice.
Healthcare review sites like RateMDs, WebMD, and Vitals are the most popular review sites for doctors. Member-only insurance provider pages often list reviews as well. Other, more general, sites will accept online doctor reviews, including Google My Business, Trustpilot, Yelp, Consumer Affairs, Citysearch, and many more. More simply, a Google search of the doctor’s name will surely result in many patient reviews, as well as licensing information, legal records (in case of malpractice or litigation), and other relevant information to help evaluate a doctor’s reputation.
Most online doctor reviews are posted by patients, so they often speak about things like scheduling, competency, and interpersonal relations between the doctor and patient. In many cases, these are not scientific reviews that actually speak to the effectiveness of the doctor’s treatment(s). When reading online doctor reviews, it’s important to understand that everyone’s criteria for evaluating outstanding medical care are different. If a potential patient wishes to learn about results like cure rates and treatment success, other sources will be more helpful.
There are a number of healthcare review sites where people will find ratings and reviews for doctors, including WebMD, HealthGrades, RateMDs, Vitals, ZocDoc, and Wellness.com. These are specific to healthcare providers, and besides a Google search of the doctor’s name, maybe the most direct way to find doctor reviews. More generic review sites might have doctor reviews as well, including BBB Reviews, Yellow Pages, and of course, Google My Business.
If there have been complaints against a doctor logged, they can be found at FSMB (The Federation of State Medical Boards), NCQA (National Committee for Quality Assurance), and the State Department of Health Services. You can also check court records, your state’s medical licensing board. You may also find information if you Google the doctor’s name followed by terms such as malpractice, complaint, or suspension… but know that this type of search is not exhaustive. Medical licenses are issued by a state, so a search of states where the doctor previously practiced can also be helpful.