February 2019

OPHTHALMOLOGY BUSINESS

Increasing your online presence


by Vanessa Caceres EyeWorld Contributing Writer



Responding to online reviews shows patients you care about their feedback.




Examples of places where you can claim or see your business profile online
Source (all): Randall Wong, MD

Reviews and better SEO can bring more patients to your practice

Do you know how to manage your practice’s online reputation? Is it easy for patients to find your practice online?
If the answer to both of these questions is no, you might give existing and potential patients the impression that you don’t care about their business.
Steer your online presence on the right course this year by responding to online reviews, “claiming” your business online, and consistently posting your contact information online, advised Randall Wong, MD, owner, Medical Marketing Enterprises, Bethesda, Maryland. Dr. Wong is also a retinal specialist in the Washington, D.C. area.
Dr. Wong addressed the world of online marketing during a session at the 2018 American Academy of Ophthalmology Annual Meeting this past fall. Here are his suggestions to boost your practice’s online presence.
1. Understand how online reviews work and respond to them appropriately. There are a plethora of places where patients can leave reviews for your practice, Dr. Wong said. These can include social media, Google, Yelp, Angie’s List, Vitals, and business aggregators specific to your geographical market. Although the fear of getting a negative review is real, Dr. Wong thinks you shouldn’t overthink how that may happen. “The majority of reviews for anyone are positive. Nine times out of 10, patients love you,” he said.
With that in mind, show patients and potential patients you care by responding or having a point person from your practice respond to all positive reviews. Thank the person who left the review for taking the time to write it. “By responding, you’re saying, ‘Thanks for engaging. I’m monitoring and this is important to me,’” Dr. Wong said.
If it’s an older review that you missed responding to earlier, you should still leave a thank you online. This still shows the reviewer—and anyone else who reads it—that you care.
As for the occasional negative review, use it to make lemonade out of lemons, Dr. Wong advised. First, wait for 24 hours before responding instead of writing something you may later regret. Your next step: “Delegate a colleague or administrator to craft a five-star response,” Dr. Wong said. Think of how a five-star hotel may respond to a complaint. Someone at the hotel may apologize and acknowledge your anger or frustration and not let it reflect back on you. Your response with a negative online review should be similar. However, don’t expect to fix the situation at this point. “You can’t right a wrong online. If needed, encourage the patient to call you. Don’t get into a war online,” Dr. Wong cautioned.
Google reviews have the best reputation for being accurate, so it’s particularly important to monitor reviews there, Dr. Wong advised. However, also stay aware of reviews on larger sites like Angie’s List and Yelp or on your website if your site allows reviews.
2. Ask satisfied patients for reviews. Although some surgeons may feel awkward asking for online reviews, these reviews can be a great help to your online practice reputation. If you as the physician don’t feel comfortable asking patients for reviews, you can encourage others at the practice to ask them for it, Dr. Wong said. This is useful because technicians and other staff members often know patients as well if not better than the physicians, he added. Encourage patients to leave their comments on Google reviews if they have a Gmail account.
3. Set up a Google alert to monitor your practice’s online presence. These alerts can help you catch wind of positive or potentially negative new information online so you can respond accordingly. By setting up a Gmail account, you can set up a Google alert for free, which will alert you when the subject you want to monitor is mentioned online. If you are using a doctor’s name or practice name, consider putting quote marks around the name so you don’t get bombarded with irrelevant information. Dr. Wong gave the example of using quote marks around his name, “Randall Wong, MD,” instead of just Randall Wong. The latter may give him results about a singer with the same name.
4. Claim your business online. This means that you verify that the listing information online for you through various sources is accurate. By claiming your business on the various large sites that serve as business directories, you boost your online presence, Dr. Wong said. This should include sites like Angie’s List, Healthgrades, Yelp, and Google. “If you can do that this year, you’ll hit a home run,” he said. On the aforementioned sites, look for an option on the page that says, “Claim your business online.”
However, the trick is to consistently list your practice name, address, phone number, and website. For example, if your practice address is 300 Main Street, make a choice to spell out “Street” or not, and be consistent about it among the various online platforms, Dr. Wong said. Consistency will go a long way in boosting your search engine optimization, or SEO. In fact, rankings for information on Google searches are affected by the consistency of name/address/phone number, great SEO on a website, and the number of Google reviews, he said. All of these factors increase the chance that your business will be featured on Google maps—the function that shows business names and locations with a little red pin on a screen-based map, Dr. Wong said.
If it’s available as an option, add a picture of yourself (or another surgeon at the practice), Dr. Wong recommended. This boosts visual recognition.

Editors’ note: Dr. Wong has financial interests with Medical Marketing Enterprises and Sunrise Hosting Services.

Contact information

Wong: randall.v.wong@gmail.com

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