As of 2015, more than 84% of American adults use the Internet*. The World Wide Web is an incredible tool, which can compete aggressively with bookstores, libraries, and word-of-mouth as research tools. The Internet has made it possible for virtually anybody to log in, and post their thoughts on a particular service.
In the field of plastic surgery, online reputations can spread like wildfire, for better or worse. Entire forums, blogs, and review sites such as MakeMeHeal, RateMD, and RealSelf are dedicated exclusively to this field with one goal in mind: matching a potential client to the best possible doctor.
However, what do you do when these reviews are negative, personal, or defamatory? History has shown that just one unhappy client can have a much greater impact in today’s world, especially when you consider cached versions of websites that may store information long after it has been removed from the live site. So, how can you protect your cosmetic surgery practice?
Where does freedom of speech end – and slander begin?
While freedom of speech may be an internationally acknowledged human right, the Internet allows this freedom to be taken to the extreme. The Internet can provide anonymity, and with nobody there to respond to the poster, online reviews can be harsh, hurtful, and even slanderous.
As a plastic surgeon, it is important to know your rights. Your marketing and legal teams should work together to consistently monitor reviews that cross the line from unfavorable, into libel and defamation of character.
Respect the impact of the internet
For every 10 glowing reviews your practice earns, all it takes is one unhappy customer making the claim of “This doctor ruined my face!” to send potential clients running. Unfortunately, the unhappy clients are always the quickest and most aggressive when it comes to posting testimonials. Even with incentive programs (such as 20% off of your next injectable filler for your honest review); many cosmetic surgeons still see less than half of their clients taking to the Internet with their experience.
Still, an estimated 20% of potential clients refer to the web when choosing their plastic surgeon. This does not stop at reading reviews. Many ask questions of former patients, choose specific before and after photos from the doctor’s website for reference, and even check public records for lawsuit history! Threat to plastic surgery practices all over the world increases daily as the Internet’s content becomes more robust, so it is important to understand and respect the potential impact.
Understanding your legal position
Reclaiming your public image
You have probably heard the phrase “the best defense is a good offense.” This is especially true when it comes to online reputation management, being proactive can help you reclaim your image as a plastic surgeon. Creating your own profiles, or claiming existing profiles, will allow you to publish correct information about your experience, medical licenses, surgical and non-surgical procedures offered, and general office information. Of course, these listings mean little without any reviews attached to them, so be sure to encourage your clients to post their experiences.
Clients should also feel that, if they have a problem with the results of their cosmetic procedure, they can reach out to you. The value of an experience that you were able to resolve effectively is just as valuable as an experience that went well from start to finish! Since there are hundreds of review sites in existence, and so many of them focused on plastic surgery, the vigilance required to effectively monitor your online reputation may be more than your time allows. For this reason, Surgeons Advisor has developed and patented aggressive tools and services to face this task on your behalf. Through the use of an excellent reputation team, you’ll be able to relax, knowing that your online image is in safe hands.