Best Practices for Managing Online Reputation

Online reviews. Publicly reported patient surveys. Google rankings. SEO and paid search. “Online reputation” means different things to different companies, and these few components merely scratch the surface.

In health care, a person might assume high-quality care correlates to a positive online presence, but one may not be an accurate reflection of the other. What’s happening inside your hospital, clinic or skilled nursing facility—and what the majority of patients experience—might be very different than what’s being portrayed online.

For health care organizations concerned about a poor online rating when their leaders, staff and clinicians provide top-notch care, a few important efforts can improve public perception of your organization and favorability toward your brand.

Be proactive

Invest in your hospital or health system’s online reputation before it suffers damage. While it may not be possible to anticipate every issue that can cause reputational harm, you can often mitigate the damage by being proactive. This includes engaging your patients and other stakeholders, even on social media.

Health care organizations often shy away from social platforms, in large part due to privacy concerns. With the proper policies and guidance to protect patient health information, however, it’s wise to build goodwill through these channels before crisis strikes. Sure, there will be occasional challenges—patients or families who post about their issues or complaints, identifying already stretched resources to monitor and manage the accounts—but the benefits of plugging into online communities often outweigh the risks.

Proactively managing your online reputation better equips you to withstand a blow when a negative or sensitive issue arises. Managing and cultivating your organization’s online reputation can make the difference between a significant negative event and a blip on your reputational radar.

Know how you show up – and what you can do about it

We’re often surprised when new clients come to us unaware of their organization’s true online reputation. They may know of a poor Google rating or cranky Facebook thread, but they often haven’t gone beyond the first few search results to see how and where their brand is represented.

They may not know that a Yelp or Indeed review is in violation of the site’s terms of use and could be removed. They may have never considered that a Facebook page just for their OB or Ortho programs would help create positive “above the scroll” results. They may have never heard about websites like Crunchbase or considered that a Pinterest or Vimeo page could influence online results.

This is where the assistance of professionals can be helpful. An online strategist can explore how new channels, dedicated websites and other digital efforts can help “push down” negative results and positively impact online reputation.

Leverage your thought leadership strategy

Securing favorable placement in a highly valued industry or business media outlet provides an opportunity to positively promote your organization and subject matter experts. It gives you a chance to continue the conversation with your stakeholders, broaden your audience, demonstrate your specialized knowledge and boost awareness and reputation of your organization. It also provides positive online search results that can help offset negative headlines and reviews.

Paid placements and sponsored content often provide similar opportunities. And you can extend the reach of your investment or media coverage with direct-to-patient or referrer messaging, email marketing, reprints or handouts and social media posts to enhance the narrative around your brand or to shift it in a positive direction if it has taken a blow.

Assess your strategies—and those of your competitors

Health care is still a leading topic for most media organizations, which can provide an opportunity for providers to secure frequent, favorable media and online coverage to influence perceptions around the care they provide. Analyze your organization’s media landscape thoroughly and often and compare it with your competitors. Consider the frequency and quality of each placement, whether the tone is positive, negative or neutral, the reach of the publication or website, and the prominence and placement of your organization’s name or message.

Tell your stories

Look for gaps and opportunities you may be missing and tell those stories. Is your organization winning awards or are your clinicians being recognized by industry peers? Is your team conducting cutting-edge research or contributing to breakthroughs in treatments? Has a patient or family sung your praises because of the compassionate or lifesaving care they received? These are the stories that, over time, create a powerful connection with patients, partners and other key stakeholders.

If the media isn’t covering your news, assess your strategy to determine the best way to leverage your stories with a robust blog strategy, other owned platforms and paid opportunities.

If you need guidance on effectively sharing your stories using any of these strategies, Lovell is here to help. Contact us at