Not too long ago, potential patients relied on word-of-mouth recommendations from friends and relatives when selecting a physician, home healthcare agency, medical spa, hospital, and other healthcare providers.

Are medical professionals knowledgeable? Do they show compassion for patients? Is the staff courteous? All valid concerns.

It was and remains an effective way to make these important decisions. Today, however, decisions can be made with a click of a mouse to read reviews or find information about a physician or medical facility. A DUI, a malpractice law suit, or simply a bad review from an angry patient can destroy a practice. It seems as though the same criteria used for selecting a restaurant or a shoe store is being used to choose healthcare providers. And while there are similarities, there are certainly differences, as per this opinion from the American Medical Association:

“Online opinions of physicians should be taken with a grain of salt, and should certainly not be a patient’s sole source of information when looking for a new physician,” the American Medical Association said in a statement. “Choosing a physician is more complicated than choosing a good restaurant, and patients owe it to themselves to use the best available resources when making this important decision.”

Nevertheless, physicians must take their online reputations seriously and acknowledge that this method of selection is critical to managing a healthy, growing practice.

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