Struggling to control your online reputation? AAD free webinar can help

In May, the AAD is offering a free webinar on how to protect your online reputation. This is a unique opportunity to learn how social media platforms work and get the answers you need to protect your practice. This free webinar is brought to you by AAD Partner of the Month, Officite. Member to Member discussed the challenges of managing an online reputation with Annie Chiu, MD, a cosmetic and general dermatologist in Redondo Beach, California, and a member of the Academy’s Public Education Committee. Although Dr. Chiu, who is not a customer of Officite, has struggled to find the right strategy to deal with both positive and negative online reviews.

M2M: What’s been your experience in dealing with online reviews?

annie-chiu.jpgDr. Chiu: I find it really difficult. It’s hard to find the right strategy. I see a lot of patients and the few that are unhappy have the loudest voices. Their comments on Yelp and other online review sites are almost never about the medical service we provide. It usually has to do with the fact that they don’t understand their own insurance billing issues, but they take it out on their doctor. It’s frustrating. And it’s hurtful, even though it is no reflection on the medical care I provide.

M2M: How do you respond to negative reviews?

Dr. Chiu: Like most of my colleagues, it’s something that I struggle with. At times I think I should be proactive and respond. But other times I feel like responding would simply encourage other patients to use rating sites as a means to get your attention.

Some of my colleagues have had patients use it as a form of extortion. For example, I’ve heard of a patient who was unhappy with their bill and threatened to post a horrible Yelp review if they were forced to pay the bill. Do you cave to that type of threat? Of course not. But do you then respond to the negative review or ignore it? There’s not an easy answer. Right now, my policy is to not respond to positive or negative reviews.

M2M: Your current online reviews are overwhelmingly positive. Does that help you attract patients?

dont-get-yelped-webinar-ad180x150.jpgDr. Chiu: I’m grateful, of course, for any positive feedback from my patients. But, interestingly, even positive comments posted online can work against you. I found that having perfect reviews attracted difficult patients. For example, let’s say there is a patient who has seen 60 dermatologists already and thinks they’re all horrible. Then they go online and see that you have great reviews. So they come to see you. And, guess what? You’re the 61st dermatologist they think is horrible and they write a bad review about you.

My practice has been built on word-of-mouth, not from online reviews. When your friend tells you that their doctor is great, that’s much more powerful than an online review. And it’s not going to drive difficult patients to your practice.

M2M: Dermatologists seem to be popular targets for online reviews. Why do you think that is?

Dr. Chiu: We’re not like other specialties because we offer a combination of covered and non-covered services. It opens the possibility for a lot of confusion and frustration over billing. If a dermatologist tells a patient that a procedure is not covered by insurance, and then that patient receives a bill for it three months later, it ticks them off. And they might take that frustration out on their doctor rather than the insurance provider.

M2M: Any advice for your colleagues dealing with this issue?

Dr. Chiu: I’m certainly no expert in this area. Just be a good doctor and provide the best care. Try to deal with complaints before patients leave the office.

Watch the webinar