Many doctors do not have an online presence. For some this is because they are very busy, and certainly with an NHS practice, there is no need to promote your services as there will always be a continuous stream of patients.
However, for others, it is because they are uncomfortable being directly accessible to patients and they have fears that there may be negative reviews and comments posted. I understand this fear and I think it is very common for doctors to feel vulnerable in this way.
Medicine is not a precise science and no matter how conscientious you are, things will go wrong and some patients will have an unfavourable outcome.
Furthermore, there will always be some patients who may have a good clinical result, but will still be unhappy, perhaps because of their expectation of the result, or maybe because they feel that they have not been treated well.
We all know that unhappy patients are more likely to post reviews than happy patients (see ‘worried about bad reviews’ blog post) and so doctor’s fears have a solid founding.
However, while we all know that adverse outcomes do happen, the idea is that we get good outcomes most of the time.
This is something that I have learned about being in full-time independent practice.
You have to be good
You have to be constantly aware and focused on getting an excellent outcome for each and every patient. This does not necessarily mean that you cannot have complications, as these are inevitable. However, you need to minimise your complications by being meticulous in your techniques and your postop processes and you need to be robust in your management of complications.
I have found that some of my most grateful patients are the ones that have suffered complications.
all doctors will get complications, but it is how you deal with those complications that is important
If you are in independent private practice, there is no room to hide with a mediocre practice and service in the same way that you can if you work for a bigger organisation like the NHS or a commercial private company.
It can be a harsh environment and it is easy to feel threatened and isolated. If you have a patient who is unhappy, it is easy to put an inordinate amount of focus on to that and to feel insecure.
This is why it is so important to nurture and cultivate the positives in your practice so that you can build a buffer that will protect you in times of difficulty.
But you can only build the buffer if you are good.
Not just a good surgeon, but good to your patients in how you treat them and talk to them.
And not just in the way that you treat and talk to them, but how everyone who has contact with them treats and talks to them.
At the end of the day, all of this is good medicine.
We are treating patients and trying to get the best outcome that we can.
If you are afraid of having an online presence because you fear negative comments, I understand.
But if you are getting a lot of negative comments and are unable to offset these with a flood of positive feedback from your happy patients, then maybe independent private practice is not for you.
However, if you think that independent practice is for you and you would like to have a chat about joining my Consulting Class, click here for more details.