Health Care Reputations in a Social Media World

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Recently, Instagram celebrated a milestone: The social media platform now has more than 400 million users and continues to grow, says Instagram itself. Additionally, other social media networks such as Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest are continuing to add new users daily. This poses an interesting implication for the health care industry: What is the best way for health care providers to manage their online reputations in the face of all this media?

ONLINE REPUTATION MANAGEMENT

According to Dr. Howard J. Luks, 25 out of 180 health care providers surveyed expressed concern over reputation management. Respondents felt that reputation management within the realm of social media is only effective by managing reputations after something has been posted. In other words, a physician can achieve successful reputation management by proactively searching for issues on social media and addressing them.

Health providers must also consider how the rise of mobile devices and smartphones can affect their practices. Anyone with a smartphone or other Internet-capable device can view information about practices and staff while on their way to a doctor’s appointment, checkup or diagnostic test.

WHERE ELSE IS YOUR ONLINE REPUTATION THREATENED?

A Pew Internet Research Group study found 80 percent of Internet users have actively looked for health care information online. For example, a person may have used Healthgrades to find contact information, complication rates and rates of successful treatment for physicians, health care settings, hospitals and more. This information can also be shared via social media from Healthgrades directly. Other similar sites include RateMDs, Angie’s List and other online health forums.

DEALING WITH NEGATIVE COMMENTARY

Dr. Luks suggests that health care providers create an online reputation management strategy. For example, a provider may create a Google alert to notify office personnel whenever the provider’s name, information or other user-defined keywords appear in Google searches.

The second step to successful online reputation management is creating a way to connect with disgruntled, upset or otherwise negative commentary from patients. This may involve maintaining a Facebook page for the practice, setting up a patient forum and answering questions and concerns from previous patients and their family members promptly.

Social media has grown to become an integral part of society. A comment, failure to comment or unanswered question can quickly spread across the Internet and undermine the dedication and hard work of medical practices instantly.

Consider how social media and health care will always be related. A degree in Medical Office Administration can kickstart your new career in health care today.

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