From a new blog, Dr. Leonardo:
A recent Pew Internet study shows that 44 percent of patients are researching their doctor online prior to committing to them as a physician.
Pho suggests doctors Google themselves once a week so that they can see what is online and what patients will find when they search for the doctor online.
The blog is associated with a web page company catering to physicians, not dentists; never the less I believe the information is applicable to many dental practices. Online reviews have become incredibly powerful. 90% of people believe user reviews. User reviews are seen as the equivalent of a personal referral.
As professionals our reputation is one of our most precious assets. It is a good idea to stay on top of what people are saying about you online. Google yourself by name and by your practice name on a regular basis. What comes up?
One of the best ways to control what shows up is with a well-designed website. Another is to claim and set up your Google+ local page.
If you find some negative reviews respond if possible. However do not challenge the review. Note what was said, (most negative reviews do not address actual quality of care but are complaints about waiting time and insurance) and respond with sympathy and a promise to fix the issue. For example:
We are sorry you had such a poor experience that is not the way we normally run our office. We pride ourselves on being on time and will do our best to assure you are seen in a timely fashion at your next appointment. Thank you for alerting us to the issue.