Protecting Your Medical Practice Online
The Internet has made it easier than ever before for people to find the information they need. However, this ease also makes it possible for almost anyone to share their opinions and thoughts on the Web. Although in most cases this is a good thing, there are times when this free sharing of information can cause problems, especially in the case of a person or business’s online reputation. In fact, many times it seems as if chat forums, blogs and social networking websites bring out the worst in people.
People tend to share negative opinions freely, without considering what their posts may do to a person’s reputation. In some cases, these comments might be justified, but in others they’re simply defamatory, ugly and hateful.
If you have a medical practice, the last thing you want or need is somebody writing disparaging Internet reviews about you, especially if they’re totally unfounded. What can you do to protect your online reputation? Know how to protect your medical practice from negative reviews online.
Remember that free speech can be a double-edged sword
Free speech tends to be somewhat of a double-edged sword when it comes to publishing information on the Web. Of course, the ease and speed of sharing information on the Internet is one of its most powerful features. But it has also helped to create a sense of anonymity, where individuals have a tendency to say things they might never say under other circumstances. People generally feel that the right to free speech entitles them to post their opinions anywhere on the Web, even if what they have to say has the potential to hurt another person’s reputation. Unfortunately, in most cases the laws in place to protect people from verbal slander and libel in other forms of media don’t seem to be enforced equally when it comes to defamatory speech on the Internet.
Negative online reviews carry weight
Physicians need to understand how much weight people place on information they read online. An estimated 20 percent of patients refer to doctor review websites when choosing a physician. These sites, such as www.Vitals.com and www.RateMds.com, give people a forum to express their opinions about doctors and their medical practices. Although people certainly post positive opinions, there are also a lot of negative and disparaging reviews. As more people utilize these review websites when choosing a physician, they become an even more powerful tool. Unfortunately, their threat to your medical practice’s reputation also continues to grow right along with the popularity of these sites.
If you find that you or your medical practice has fallen victim to negative comments on online sites, it’s important to take steps to protect your reputation. Know how to protect your medical practice from negative reviews online.
Laws don’t apply equally to online speech
Many physicians make the mistake of believing that it’s simple to get these negative comments removed, especially if they’re untrue and unfounded. Unfortunately, it’s rarely as simple as it might seem. In fact, review websites don’t have a legal obligation to remove negative reviews.
Currently, the laws regarding online communication are slanted in the direction of free speech. The same laws that can protect a person against verbal slander and libel in other forms of media don’t automatically apply to online review websites. In many cases, negative reviews are simply viewed as “opinions,” instead of being considered a statement of fact, and current laws protect a person’s right to state his or her opinion. Additionally, it can often be quite difficult to prove that a person wrote a review with malice or a reckless disregard for the truth. The issue becomes even more complex when you consider that there are also laws in place that protect the rights of the review websites themselves.
Since 1996 the Communications Decency Act (CDA) has provided a great deal of immunity to online sites that simply distribute or publish the content of others. Although designed to help protect free speech, the CDA also makes it difficult for those who are the victims of online defamation to receive justice. This is one of the reasons why it can be so difficult to get negative reviews removed from these review websites, even if they’re completely untrue or unfounded.
Protect your medical practice online reputation
Although current laws make protecting the online reputation of your medical practice challenging, it is possible. In most cases, it’s best to be proactive and fix doctor reviews before they can esclate. Creating a profile for yourself on these sites can be the first step toward taking control of your online reputation. Publish accurate and current information about yourself and your medical practice. Keep in mind that the majority of comments made on review websites are actually positive. Increase your averages even more by making sure your patients know about these websites, and encourage them to use them. In this way, patients who are pleased with your practice will be more likely to post positive comments.
You should also make an effort to give your patients an easy way to provide you with feedback. In many cases, simply providing patients with your email address can drastically reduce the number of negative comments posted about your practice online.
Monitor medical review websites to safeguard your online reputation
Because medical review websites and other online forums are simply a fact of life, your priority should focus on monitoring your online reputation. Through diligent online reputation management, you’ll be able to reap the benefits of the Internet, instead of worrying about the negative comments that could potentially lurk online. To get ahead enquire today about the ReputationDefender review monitoring tool – boost positive reviews, relove negative feedback and manage all your reviews from one dashboard!