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News & Press: Industry News

Headshots & Online Rankings: Why They Matter to Patients & Why They Need to Matter to You

Friday, September 23, 2016   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Ashley Libby Diaz, The Anca Group
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After being diagnosed with cancer in 2013, I did what so many patients do today. I turned to the Internet. I researched the surgeons who had been recommended to me, visited their practice websites, read their bios, and learned about their education, training, experience, interests, and anything else I could find. While each ‘checked out’ on an objective level, I wasn’t ready to trust my life to these surgeons just yet. For that, I needed something more subjective. I needed to feel a connection with each, I needed to understand how they stacked up against other surgeons I might choose, and I needed to understand their impact on other patients. So I turned to their pictures, rankings, and reviews to tell me what I needed to know.

Understanding the Importance of Headshots, Online Rankings & Patient Reviews

As humans, we need to connect with other people. In this digital age, we not only connect with people online, but also form impressions and make decisions about others online before we ever meet them. If we don’t have the right first impression that allows us to build trust and confidence immediately, we move on and find someone who possesses the qualities we’re seeking and with whom we believe we can form that trusting relationship and bond. 

This is especially true of the people we need to trust most, our doctors. Headshots, rankings, and reviews in particular allow us to make those quick decisions about the quality of a doctor and whether a particular physician or surgeon might be right for us. 

Make Headshots, Rankings & Reviews Great – Make a Difference in Your Practice

Orthopaedic practice administrators need to pay particular attention to their surgeons’ headshots, rankings, and reviews. Keep these points in mind when evaluating your practice’s online presence:

1. Recognize the importance of headshots, rankings, and reviews to your practice and your potential patients. Don’t ignore them. Over time, instill the importance of each of these in your surgeons and staff as well. Patients are paying attention and will notice if you neglect these three key elements of your brand. They will also notice if you don’t stack up against the competition and may be drawn to another surgeon or practice.

2. Put care into getting great headshots. They should make a positive first impression and portray professionalism, attention to detail, consistency, and care. A few ‘do’s and don’ts’ a long these lines: 

a. Do think about the message each surgeon is sending in his or her photo. Does the photo make the surgeon appear warm, friendly, and welcoming? Or does it make him or her feel stiff, cold, and unapproachable? Consciously or unconsciously, patients will take note and respond accordingly if a surgeon doesn’t appear relaxed, natural, authentic, confident, and therefore trustworthy, so make sure to get this right. 

b. Do keep photos current. We all (patients included) can tell when a photo looks like it was taken 10 or more years ago. In medicine, we all want doctors to be up-to-date on medical care, research, practices, and the like. A dated look can bring this ideal into question.

c. Do read the upcoming companion article “7 Tips for Getting Great Headshots” which will be included in the October 11 AAOE eNewsletter.  

d. Don’t have photos of one surgeon at his / her desk in scrubs, one with a dark blue background and a white medical coat, and another with a light grey background and a blue suit. 

e. Don’t allow wedding photos or other personal photos to sneak into the mix. 

f. Don’t mix black and white photos with color photos. It may take a bit of time and effort to gain consistency, but it will be well worth it.

3. Monitor online rankings and reviews for your practice and surgeons, and be sure to handle appropriately. While you, your surgeons, and your staff may strive to ensure that all patients have a great experience, the reality is that not every patient will. Encourage positive ratings and reviews by providing exceptional care, asking for them, and thanking patients when they provide them. Address negative rankings and reviews professionally and respectfully. Other patients reading those negative reviews will know that you’re paying attention, listening, and handling the situation and that you care about all patients’ experiences. 

4. With all of the possible places for patients to rate and review doctors online, consider using a paid service to monitor, manage, and respond to your online reviews. I use Empathiq (formerly called Review Concierge), but many options for reputation management exist. Depending upon your plan and provider, you may be able to use this same service to generate more reviews and to feed those reviews to your website. Whatever method or approach you choose, you certainly don’t want to overlook new ratings and reviews, lose a chance to respond, or miss important feedback, and you want to make sure those rankings are favorable and / or heading in the direction you want. 

5. Remember that every experience, touch point, and interaction (online and off), whether you’re aware of it or not, contributes to – or detracts from – a given brand, whether it’s your practice’s collective brand or your surgeon’s individual brand. Photos have the ability to contribute or detract, as do rankings and reviews. Control what you can to ensure that your brand leaves the best impression possible at every turn. And make it a goal to continuously improve in these areas. It doesn’t have to happen overnight, but you must get on the right path. 

So with that, head off and check your surgeons’ headshots, rankings, and reviews. If your potential patients feel comfortable and confident, they will choose your practice. If there’s work to be done, great! Come up with a plan to address the issues. If you’re not sure or need help, seek a branding professional who can advise you. 

No matter where you start, find ways to give patients ways and reasons to connect with your surgeons and your practice. If you can do that, you will help your potential patients take the first step towards getting the care they need and the experience they deserve. You will help them make the decision to pick up the phone or click the button to schedule their initial appointment. 

About the Author

Ashley Libby Diaz is a brand and marketing strategist and the principal and founder of The Anca Group

With more than 18 years of medical marketing and healthcare practice experience and her own personal health and medical trials, Ashley has a deep relationship with healthcare, a profound appreciation for providers, a unique perspective on medicine, and a keen eye for exceptional patient experiences. 

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