Why reputation management matters
Reputation management should be a serious consideration for every healthcare organization. Why? Today's healthcare consumers aren't just taking charge of their healthcare decisions; they're using social media to weigh in on everything from emergency room wait times to the friendliness of your staff – from front desk to providers.

When it comes to reputation management, online reviews and ratings are especially important for healthcare organizations to consider because consumers see them as an honest reflection of other patients' experiences. Because online reviews are so valued, 84% of patients use online reviews to evaluate physicians, and 77% use them as their first step in finding a new doctor.

With so much at stake, healthcare organizations can’t afford to leave their social media channels and third-party reviews unmonitored. But, keeping up with your organization's online reputation is no easy task.

Why it's so hard to manage
Online reputation management for any business is a full time, 24/7/365 job, and one that a single person simply cannot handle alone. The difficulty and expense of staffing a qualified in-house team can make this choice unappealing for most healthcare organizations. Even if your team members are extremely social media and tech savvy and trained to correctly respond to consumer comments without further damaging your reputation or violating HIPPA regulations, the sheer amount of time it takes to stay on top of your online reputation is still unreasonable.

Making the case for an automated solution
Let's assume you've done your research, crunched the numbers, and feel strongly that a technology solution to ease some of the burden on your team is what your organization needs. Perhaps you've evaluated vendors and have already chosen the solution you'd like to implement. Now, it's time for one of the most difficult steps in the process... getting executives to sign off on your proposal. To help, we've compiled the following six tips to make the process a little bit easier.

Tip 1: Get the Timing Right
Getting executive buy-in for reputation management depends on finding the right moment to raise your ideas. According to Harvard Business Review, the best time to present your ideas could be when organizational priorities shift, when certain players leave or join the company, or when an executive’s preoccupations change.

Tip 2: Frame the Issue
Moving reputation management higher on your organization’s priority list depends heavily on how you package the idea. Partnering with an outside vendor for reputation management might seem like an unnecessary expense until you explain how it supports a strategic goal, such as increasing responsiveness to consumers. We find that in addition to any strategic organization goals, reputation management and the effort of requesting new patient reviews has a direct impact on local search visibility of your local listings.

Knowledge of organizational norms, such as what kinds of data your leaders like to use to make decisions, how they prefer to receive information, and whether they tend to get behind issues similar to yours, can help make your case stronger. Once people see how reputation management fits into the big picture of your strategic and marketing goals, they’ll likely be more willing to devote resources to it.

Tip 3: Involve Others
The HBR study went on to explain that when you’re trying to convince management of the value of your idea, building a collaborative team that supports your cause can be more effective than going it alone. “Building a coalition generates organizational buy-in more quickly and on a larger scale as more people contribute energy and resources. One person might have access to important data, for example, and another might have a personal relationship with one of the top managers you’re trying to persuade.”

Tip 4: Offer a well-researched solution
If you’ve already taken the step of choosing a vendor for reputation management, you'll need to sell that recommendation as well. The key is to carry out your due diligence and document your findings.

You’ll need to fully explain the process you went through when making your decision. Why did this vendor come out on top? What qualifications did you look for? Does this vendor have extensive healthcare experience? How many implementations have they completed for similar organizations? How satisfied are their past/current clients with their results?

Tip 5: Be able to talk numbers
When selling your reputation management solution to executives, you'll not only need to explain the costs, but also the return on investment your organization can expect.

When speaking to executives about reputation management, you might try focusing on key areas of high revenue. How will investing in an automated solution allow you to improve on the value of your reputation in these areas? How long will it take to see a return on your investment? How will you measure the results of your efforts?

Tip 6: Explain your plans for implementation
Executives will also want to know how you plan to implement your solution. This includes the timing of key initiates and the allocation of staff resources. Of course, your plan will vary depending on the size and complexity of your organization. Academic medical centers, for example, will generally require more planning upfront than a small physicians practice.

Implementing reputation management software is a relatively simple step in the process if you have can find the right vendor with both strong functionality and a dedicated support team. In addition, a partner that is experienced in healthcare reputation management can offer expertise, best practices, and insights that will aid in the implementation of your reputation management program.

Of course, online reviews and ratings are just one part of a larger consumer experience strategy, which includes monitoring and engaging not only all online chatter pertaining to your organization, but of the entire consumer path to care.

To learn more about how to better manage your organization’s reputation and improve your local search rankings in the process, download our eBook, The Quest to Be Found.