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Texas Doctors: Two tips to protect your online reputation

A doctor's reputation is extremely valuable. Patients will take this reputation into consideration before deciding upon pursuing treatment. In this digital age, it is important to take proactive steps to help build your online reputation.

Why do I have to worry about my online reputation? Use of Internet rating sites is growing in popularity. Not only are these sites popular, but they impact a patient's choice. As noted in a recent study published by the United States National Library of Medicine's National Institutes of Health, 28.1 percent of patients surveyed "strongly agreed" a positive physician review alone would cause them to seek care from that doctor.

In addition, the Texas Medical Association (TMA) notes a large portion of these reviews are positive. An estimated 50 percent of reviewed physicians receive a full five-star rating.

How can I protect my online reputation? The exact practice will vary with each medical professional. Some will prefer a more hands on, visible profile online while others will prefer to manage what is already on the Internet and not add additional information.

Two specific tips that work for most physicians regardless of their approach include:

  • Respond carefully. It is very tempting to respond to online reviews, particularly negative reviews. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) makes it very difficult to respond specifically to a review. As noted by the TMA, an attempt to provide clarification on why a particular patient may have had a bad experience could result in a violation, which could put your medical license in jeopardy.
  • Consider the site. In some cases, you may be able to flag a review as inappropriate. This can lead to a review by the site owner and potentially result in the removal of the review.

It is also wise to set up "Google Alerts." This will result in a notification from Google whenever you or your practice is mentioned online.

What if a review leads to a threat to my medical license? In some cases, a negative review can escalate to an investigation and threaten your medical license. You have options if you are in this situation. An attorney can review the situation and discuss the best course of action to protect your medical license.

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