These days, whether we like it or not, it’s all about having an online presence. That’s where patients search for, compare, evaluate, choose, and then review their health care providers. So if you want to grow your practice, it makes sense to put your profile where patients can find it.
Should be simple, right? But as a healthcare provider, you receive an overwhelming amount of invitations to create (or claim) your profile. All of the sites look great and promise to help you market yourself. But where are patients really searching for physician profiles? Here are the most widely used profile sites for healthcare providers:
1. Google My Business: Your First Priority
63% of all searches start on Google. This means that the bulk of prospective patients are using Google Search and Maps to locate local physicians. Your existing Google reviews (or lack of) are the first results they see. Your contact information and hours of operation are prepopulated by data aggregators and often outdated. So the importance of managing your Google profile cannot be overstated.
Luckily, it’s as simple as claiming your business on Google My Business and subsequently addressing all Google reviews that come in, good and bad. This will help ensure that patients looking for doctors in your area come to you instead of your competition.
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2. Bing: The Runner Up
So where is the rest of the U.S. searching? As of 2016, 31.9 percent of searches were powered by Bing. This makes sense as it is the search browser that comes standard with many PC’s. Microsoft has recently rolled out a physician search feature. The profiles include locations and contact numbers. They show years of experience, average reviews, and educational background.
Bing says its search results are reliable: “We’ve even confirmed thousands of phone numbers by actually calling them.” To make sure your information is correct, be sure to claim your practice on Bing.
3. Yelp: Join or Else
A 2014 survey conducted by Software Advice showed that Yelp is the most popular site for online physician reviews. Yelp boasts 100 Million unique visitors per month. Sure, doctors don’t like to get rated like restaurants. But your profile is there and your patients are already reviewing you. Claiming your practice is the only way to handle any negative reviews. The silver lining is that taking care of negative reviews in a public forum shows that you care—and this attracts new patients.
4. Vitals: Compete on Price
Vitals enjoys 4.3 million unique visitors per month. It’s a new tool that seems to be getting a lot of followers. It allows patients to “shop” for a physician by comparing experience and costs for procedures and appointments. It includes patient ratings and reviews. Patients can earn cash incentives when they shop for health care on Vitals. If you know your pricing is fair and may give you an advantage over your competition, this venue could be for you.
5. Healthgrades: Get More Reviews
Now a household name, 4.2 Million people use Healthgrades monthly to research and compare health care providers. Healthgrades tries to make getting reviews easier by giving you free printed postcards to send out to patients after a visit.
The site advises you to boost your profile by entering accurate, up-to-date, and comprehensive information about your practice. Differente yourself within your field of specialty.
6. Doximity: Get Physician Referrals
If you’re a specialty physician who gets referrals from other providers, creating a profile on Doximity is a must. Four out of ten doctors are said to already be using this social networking site. A self-reported 272 K unique visitors visit the site per month. A profile in this directory allows you to network, collaborate with and receive referrals from other physicians, all in a HIPAA-compliant environment. Doximity data now powers The Doctor Finder search function for US News Health, which means all profiles work double duty.
7. Facebook: Reach Neighborhoods
Facebook offers almost any kind of marketing, including medical practice marketing. Although the numbers are inflated by the high-volume of dummy accounts, recent stats claim that 162.9 million US internet users will log on to Facebook at least once a month.
Facebook allows you to target certain audiences and locations via their business page features. But if you want to get more local patients, be sure to join neighborhood groups in your area. This is where new residents tend to ask their neighbors for physician recommendations.
8. WebMD: Update Your Information
WebMD has jumped on the bandwagon and created a physician directory. The reviews seem to be lacking as of this writing. That said, WebMD is used by 9 M unique users per year. The site is familiar among patients who like to research symptoms online. Therefore, it may be worthwhile to check your WebMD profile for accuracy, because they have so many visitors, chances are, some patients are searching for you there too.
9. Specialty Directories: A Must for Some
If you’re in a specialty where reviews really matter, specialty review sites cannot be ignored. For instance, if you’re a plastic surgeon, patients will probably visit Realself. The site is heavily marketed to both patients and physicians alike. It allows patients to post before and after pictures of their procedures and describe their experiences. It promises physicians the ability to “establish your brand and manage your online reputation.”
Profile Sites for Healthcare Providers: The Takeaway
Unfortunately, as this post shows us, you cannot “manage your reputation” just by monitoring one review site… To determine which online profiles to pay attention to, ask yourself the following questions:
- Which search engines are my patients using to search for me (or my practice)? Is the information there correct? Do they contain negative reviews there that I should address?
- Which review sites already contain my pre-populated profile? How can I get more reviews there?
- Which social media sites apply to my business? How can I make sure my practice is mentioned when new residents ask for referrals?
- Which specialty directories already include my information? Are they accurate?
Remember that expanding your online presence a good investment… after all, it IS free advertising! As long as you continue to find ways to better serve your patients, and monitor your online reputation, word of mouth will help you grow a flourishing practice.