Digital Identity and Online Reputation

Did you know you are on the web?  You, yes you dear clinician are on the web. You might say, “Yes, I have a website” or “Of course, I’m on Facebook.”  However, consider this…there is information about you online that you did not put there.

As a medical and healthcare professional you should be very concerned.

There is a plethora of physician and healthcare provider rating sites online. They pull data – all of our data from the NPI registry and licensing agencies (all public information) and place your information on their site.

You might be surprised at that amount of information about you that is public. Certainly your work address, your degrees, your NPI number and contact information.  It may also include information about your license ( and any sanctions), malpractice and more.

And almost all of these sites will ask: “Have you seen this provider? Please leave a review.”

At the time of this writing, most of us have few if any reviews (depending on the site). However, with each passing day it is increasingly likely that someone will post a review about you online.

That review may or may not be accurate. It could be a patient who is a raving fan, or a disgruntled family member. It’s also possible that it’s a former employee or colleague who is angry and feels they have been wronged in some manner. Or it could be some anonymous person who just likes to stir things up in cyberspace.  There have even been incidents where companies (competitors) have posted negative online reviews (and were fined as much as $350K, not to mention all that bad karma they accumulated).

The Good and Bad about Reviews:

As you probably realize, there are good and not-so-good aspects to these reviews. When the reviews are good, they bring in new patients to your practice and your reputation as a provider grows.  But when they are not, you will likely see less new patients coming to your practice and perhaps even lose some of the patients you currently see.

It turns out that patients, just like the rest of the public, are looking online for reviews of products and services, and that includes healthcare.  They look to see what experience others have had before they make the time and financial investment to see you.

Think of it this way.  How often have you gone or avoided a new restaurant or movie based on recommendations or reviews?

Healthcare consumers do the same. As a matter of fact, most of us will make decisions on products or services based on reviews…or what is also called social proof.

Those reviews, and the implied worthiness of a product or service can make or break your business and your reputation as a health care professional. Thus it is critical that you manage your digital identity and reputation.

So what’s a tired, overworked, time strapped clinician suppose to do?

Create. Monitor. Respond.

The first thing is to create your own identity and reputation, monitor it and respond to comments and reviews. Sounds like a lot, but it is manageable when systems are put into place.

Create your home on the web:

  1. Create accounts on blog sites such as or on your own domain (see #2).
  2. Get your name as a domain name. You may or may not want to develop it now, but do get it if you are able. The reason I use my middle initial (ie, is because “Barbara Phillips” was not available.
  3. Create accounts at sites that have available “Nameplate” or “splash” page sites such as
  4. Social Media – create accounts in your name on several (if not most) social media platforms.
  5. While it’s ideal to use these accounts and platforms, at the very least you’ll want your bio, photo and contact information.

 Monitor your reputation

  • There are services you can use that will monitor your reputation online.  While some are free, most of them are fee based. Just Google “reputation management” and you’ll find plenty of options.
  • Create “alerts” where you’ll receive notification if you name is mentioned. You can do this with Google Alerts ( It’s easy to set up and you can set it to notify you at various intervals. I recommend at least daily.
  • To monitor social media, consider using something like Hootsuite (free and paid versions) where you can create a stream that will include “mentions” for your name or your company.

 Respond to the positive and not-so-positive reviews

  • First, acknowledge and thank individuals for their support.
  • Secondly, especially for the negative comments – keep an open mind. There may have been something that happened in your office that angered the individual. Learn from this and take action to correct the issue.
  • Ideally, you’ll want to respond to comments made the same day. It’s not always possible to do, however, you’ll want to do so ASAP.
  • Do not argue with someone who leaves a negative comment. Instead, invite them to contact you via phone or in person.
  • Consider asking those who are your raving fans to post an honest review on the site to minimize the impact of the negative review.
  • In some case of reviews that are slanderous or otherwise violate the terms of agreement for the review site, the site owners may remove the offending review.
  • At least resort, especially for false reviews, legal action can be taken.

I know, it sounds like a lot of work! It is, but it gets easier once you get a system in place. And what’s great about this is you can assign it to an assistant. The bottom line is this, – do it yourself or get some help – you and your reputation are worth it.


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  1. Excellent Jennifer! Patients are online and they are looking for healthcare providers. They are looking for information about each provider and trying to decide if this is the person for them. I’m very glad your patients found you.

  2. Thank you Barbara C! It is frustrating for me to be listed on so many rating sites. I do not own, nor work in a private clinical practice. I am an academic who works as a volunteer in a free primary care clinic. And yet, my home address, phone number and NPI number is out there. I have had folks call for an appointment! Thank you so much for this great blog. I guess cleaning up my digital presence is my summer project

  3. It’s crazy, isn’t it! We cannot use a PO Box for the NPI and unless we purchase a mailing address, we have our private info there. I did that initially as well…I didn’t know any better then. Perhaps using your address and mail stop at the university would work. The article on investigations – – also points out the information that is posted publically on us all. We are very concerned with patient privacy…but what out ours?

    Thanks for stopping and your kind words. See you at #AANP17!

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