Although it might be common sense to maintain a professional profile for social media accounts, new patient reporting systems are also raising eyebrows. The last quarter has introduced social network-like review systems of surgeons, on sites such as ProPublica’s Surgeon Scorecard and Yelp’s Health and Medical search function. Other sites, like Consumer Reports, have had this feedback available for years.
It is not surprising that these sites cannot always be trusted. For instance, I looked to see how a local spine surgeon was ranked, and someone had posted a review of his masseuse capabilities. If that’s not Internet accuracy – I am not sure what is.
This story might be silly, but the potential implications to a surgeon’s career are real. The only way to get ahead of erroneous reviews is to create a positive, stronger identity online. So, when patients try to dig up dirt on Dr. Brown, all they find are the gobs of good she did. Here’s how:
- Create a strong LinkedIn profile: LinkedIn profiles tend to be fairly trustworthy sources of information. As medical professionals, I know there are bigger issues than getting people to endorse you for ‘medical devices’ or ‘clinical research’, but, as a patient, I want to know where you went to school, what facilities you have worked at and if you have been recognized in the surgical industry. I also want to see your face. As much as surgical teams distance themselves emotionally from patients, every surgery is emotional for patients – that is why the face is so important.
- Develop your own ranking system: This is a system wide initiative and could be more realistic for smaller practices with less red tape. One of the first facilities to do this was actually a medical group. Back in August, North Shore-LIJ Medical Group started to post reviews of its physicians online for anyone to see. These reviews were based off of 18 months of data, which was collected through patient surveys following their care. Patients were asked to give one to five stars on traits such as competence, friendliness, communication and preparedness. Honestly, I was expecting it to be slanted in favor of the physicians, but, to my delight, it was not. There were good and bad comments, with a range of stars. What this creates is a reputable repository of information for patients to see. But, the key is honesty.
- Get involved: By becoming a member of professional organizations, such as the American College of Surgeons (ACS) or the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN) you will most likely be posted about, therefore establishing your digital presence. Getting involved in studies can also identify you as an industry expert. Another option is to contribute to publications, such as Surgical Products. We are always looking to hear what is happening on the front lines, and we would love to share your story with our readers through contributed columns or study reviews.
With these tips in mind, Google yourself to see how the Internet reflects the work you do.
What do you think about online identities? Do you have insight on the surgical industry you would like to share? Reach out to me at Rebecca.Rudolph@AdvantageMedia.com.
This article was featured in the November/ December 2015 issue of Surgical Products. To see the complete issue, click HERE.