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    Take charge of your online reputation

    Monitoring web-based reviews is vital, and they can also be used for process improvement

    Love them or hate them, online reviews are reality and powerful decision-making tools for patients searching for urologists and other physicians online. Managing or mismanaging a doctor’s online reputation can make—even threaten to break—a ­ practice.

    A recent survey of more than 1,400 U.S. patients found that 84% claimed to consult a review website with some frequency to view or post health care provider and staff comments and ratings. For most, online review resources are a determining factor for choosing a new doctor, according to the survey by software buyer resource Software Advice.

    Chad Ellimoottil, MD, MSDr. Ellimoottil“There is a lot of data that shows that patients review these ratings before seeing their physician. It is not clear whether they use these ratings to decide whether or not to see a particular physician. However, the ratings do affect how the patients perceive the physicians that they are actively seeing,” said Chad Ellimoottil, MD, MS, assistant professor of urology at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, who has been published on the topic of reviews in urology (J Urol 2013; 189:2269-73).

    While some practices cringe at the thought of becoming involved in online chatter about how patients perceive them, others embrace online reviews and make them part of process improvement.

    Also see: Dr. Stacy Loeb’s Twitter advice for urology residents

    University of Utah in Salt Lake City pioneered taking a proactive approach with online review management in the U.S. The university posts all of its online reviews as part of its process improvement, according to James M. Hotaling, MD, MS, assistant professor of surgery (urology) at the University of Utah’s Center for Reconstructive Urology and Men’s Health.

    “Anybody can go online and look up the reviews and comments on physicians at the University of Utah. The reviews are tracked, and [the physicians] get monthly reports of what percentile we’re in,” Dr. Hotaling said.

    James M. Hotaling, MD, MSDr. HotalingBy learning to better manage physician and practice online reputations and putting processes in place to address patients’ online concerns, the Center for Reconstructive Urology and Men’s Health has gone from the 38th percentile to the 75th percentile in patient satisfaction in 9 months, Dr. Hotaling said.

    Based on patient feedback, the University of Utah men’s health center has changed its patient through-put process, so patients have a better experience.

    “One example is patients complained a lot about getting a person on the phone. So, we switched to a different phone tree, where a patient can always get a live human being and have a warm transfer on the phone,” Dr. Hotaling said.

    Next: Anatomy of an online review

    Lisette Hilton
    Lisette Hilton, president of Words Come Alive, has written about health care, the science and business of medicine, fitness and wellness ...

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