Why Can’t We All Just Get Along On Line?

Why can’t we all get along online?

Viable Synergy’s CEO was recently interviewed by Neil Versel of MedCity News about the explosion of Online Physician Review sites and the impact these sites are having on physician reputation.

Check-out a few key excerpts from her interview about online physician reviews from the physician and the patient’s perspective and read the full article at MedCity News here.

Patients increasingly have shown a willingness to write online reviews of their healthcare experiences and opine on social media, and there are plenty of places for them to do so. Sometimes, though, this feedback prompts physicians and their staff to want to defend themselves.

And sometimes, providers react too strongly. A pediatric practice in Fort Myers, Florida, reportedly cut ties with eight families last month over negative comments posted in a private Facebook group.

“Most physician practices are still not really comfortable with all-out engagement online,” said Sunnie Southern, CEO of the health innovation firm Viable Synergy and founder of the Innov8 for Health online community.

“At the end of the day, patients have a voice that they never had before,” she said.

With that in mind, Viable Synergy offers physician practices customized marketing content to distribute both in the office and online. For example, there might be a brochure, branded with the practice’s name, explaining how meditation can be beneficial to health, and then offering tips for a 5-minute meditation that patients can do while sitting in the office.

To reinforce the message, Viable Synergy produces “staff flags” — buttons or stickers for office staff to wear — with messages to help engage patients. If the brochure does, in fact, talk about meditation, a flag might say, “Tell me about your 5-minute meditation,” Southern explained. “It puts a personal element to it.”

Printed material might include a takeaway item like a card saying, “If you like the 5-minute meditation, here’s a 10-minute meditation to try at home.”

The card also lists a URL that could link to the practice’s Facebook and Yelp pages because it’s sometimes hard to find social and feedback links on practice websites, she said.

Online rating sites do tend to come up high in Google searches, and often, rating sites list outdated phone numbers, hours and even addresses, so it’s important for practices to make sure their own listings are current.

It goes without saying that practices should make it easy for people visiting their websites to find the phone number and business hours, Southern said.

Similarly, in the name of customer service, practices should never try to suppress online reviews, Southern said. Instead, they should actively engage the public.

“It’s no longer a ‘nice to do’ anymore. It’s an absolute ‘have to do,’” she said.

Read the full article by clicking here.