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Search for yourself online. If you do not yet have a “webutation,” you will. Below representatives from three web-based patient engagement companies report trends in reputation creation.
Some dentists trying social networking sites are overwhelmed by “friending” decisions. Try closing your account to learn a sobering truth. You can’t hide or die online. For example, on Facebook (FB), you can only become “inactive” but not “close out” your profile or account. Other networking sites also latch-on, unshakably. For example, it was bad enough when a colleague died two months ago; Today, Linkedin.com continues emailing me her photo inviting me to link up with her.
Mark Olson, a spokesperson for Utah-based Smile Reminder, a patient engagement and communication company, recently drove his wife and young children to a BBQ restaurant. “The staff was surly, chewing us out for requesting dipping sauce for chicken nuggets. In five minutes, my review was on Yelp.com ‘Grumpy and the seven dwarfs run the place,’” Mr. Olsen recounted. “The lady probably doesn’t realize she has a reputation online, but she does. Even if she pretends she doesn’t care, she should.”
Mr. Olson’s restaurant review automatically posted to FB and Twitter. “People didn’t seek out that information, it went to them because they are connected to me. All my friends and followers know not to go to that restaurant. So your reputation is always plugged in, whether or not you are.”
Hinsdale dentist Michael Novak had both a website and concerns that no one saw it. Likewise, Winnetka dentist Jeffrey Dreebin launched his website 11 years ago, but then let it “go dead” four years ago. Justifying the practice‘s website, which vaporized money and time, was elusive.
Then last year when one of his supplier reps said he couldn’t find his practice listing online, Dr. Dreebin realized that even his 17-year-old and 20-year-old, who are always online, couldn’t find their dad there.
Drs. Novak and Dreebin located patient engagement companies to optimize their websites for searches. Today, both report their practices are “top page” in searches using the key words of “dentist” and their city’s name.
Chicago dentist Steven Koos did this too. He admits to being of the younger generation of professionals who cater to the hyperconnected Gen-X and Yers using YouTube, DexKnows, Bing, Google and Yahoo. “Patients realize specialist referrals are usually their dentist’s golfing buddies or tennis partners. The entire younger generation is [online] to assess and compare practitioners to make a choice … and get a real feel for the doctor before they even meet in person,” Dr. Koos said. His paperless practice symbolizes “green healthcare” –- getting nods from patients concerned about “ecological footprints” -- while tracking metrics: visitors to each page of his site, minutes spent per page, and devices and keywords used to locate him.
Not all tasks, however, can be roboticized. Chris Mathias, of Seattle-based Sesame Communications, reports that his company still employs human web designers and copywriters for site development. The difference today is that his websites embed portals to 24-hour bill pay, account history, appointment scheduling and reviews.
Mr. Mathias’ company says it helps clients “get found, get chosen, stay chosen.” Like others, its service updates websites frequently so that search engine drones combing for content tag it as “freshly updated.” Freshness is part of the mysterious Google algorithm used to generate responses when you search online.
Patients increasingly interact exclusively online, rarely lugging out 5-lb. phone books to search yellow pages. Yet, those professionals interviewed did not say their rosy webutation and search engine popularity has translated into lots of new patients.
What is known is that people in their 20s would rather type or text “C” to confirm a scheduled visit than (gasp!) call someone back, according to Alina Tatevosyan, of San Francisco automated marketing and communications firm Demandforce D3. Her firm captures patient comments — good or not — from post-visit surveys. With patient permission, reviews are fed to websites and listings where they fulfill ranking criteria for searches.
Perhaps your patients’ reviews would be complimentary, knowing you and your staff will read them. Too scared to look? Maybe your teenager can fill you in.
A tradition of working for the dental profession. The Chicago Dental Society was organized in 1864 and incorporated in 1878. The objective of the Chicago Dental Society is to encourage the improvement of the health of the public, to promote the art and science of dentistry and to represent the intrest of the members of the profession and the public that it serves.
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