Putting an Online Reputation in Place
The Nuts and Bolts of Managing Your Cyber Footprint
Dr. Kevin R. Campbell, MD, FACC

As I discussed in broad terms in a previous post, online reputation management is a critical part of the business of medicine today. Many patients go to the Internet first when researching a disease process and a medical professional to provide care.  However, there are specific strategies that will help provide a more comprehensive and positive cyber footprint.

Strategies to Create and Manage the Optimal Online Reputation:

1. Start with a Professional Website
The website should serve as the hub of all of your online activities. It should be professionally designed with your specific clientele in mind. The site should link to your other online activities such as your Twitter feed, your LinkedIn profile, your blog and your professional Facebook page. The website should highlight what you want your patients and potential customers to know about you. My website is a good example.

2.  Respond to Comments
If comments are left on a blog or on a MD review website, try to respond in a compassionate, thoughtful way. Suggest alternative points of view and possible solutions in a respectful, calm and thoughtful manner. Always take other opinions into consideration and do not just dismiss them as incorrect or irrelevant. Your responses give you a chance to present another side of the story without confrontation. If you are dealing with a patient complaint, try to identify the patient and have your practice administrator contact them through the practice privately in order to deal with their concerns. Often, patients and customers who do complain want recognition and to know that they matter and that we care.

3.  Remain Diverse and Don’t Get Stale
When developing and managing an online reputation, diversity is key. Don’t just focus on one outlet such as Twitter or Facebook. Search engines such as Google are constantly updating how they “hit” and by spreading your presence over several social media networking outlets and frequently updating your website and blog, you increase your visibility. Make sure you have an active presence on several different types of sites. Frequent updates are critical to success.

4. Engage in Online Communities
Participation in websites that are patient communities is very important. Your involvement in patient led forums and groups keeps you grounded and allows you to better understand what is important to patients with a particular disorder or disease. For me, involvement and participation in the ICD Users Group, for patients using implantable cardioverter defibrillators, has been a wonderful learning experience and has helped me improve the way I approach ICD patients in my practice. In addition, participation in professional online communities can help to boost your online reputation and increase your recognition as an expert.

By investing time daily in social media outlets and in the management of an online reputation, today’s physician will be able to impact and reach out to more patients.  More importantly, through engaging patients online, healthcare providers are able to help motivate patients to participate in their own healthcare. When patients are engaged and involved in their care, outcomes improve. Medicine is changing. The Internet and mobile applications are the future. Physicians must prepare now and carefully manage their cyber footprints today.

Dr. Kevin R. Campbell is a nationally recognized cardiac electrophysiologist who specializes in the prevention of sudden cardiac death and is a leading expert in the treatment of heart rhythm disorders. Dr. Campbell’s passion for serving the underserved has led to his national initiative to address disparities in cardiovascular care—particularly among women and minorities. Dr. Campbell actively blogs and many of his pieces are regularly published by nationally syndicated websites.