Last fall, attentive readers of this space may recall, an unintentional encounter between a sharp kitchen knife and the tender flesh of my hand taught me a few things about the patient experience.
That episode also got me thinking about how physicians and hospitals appear to patients seeking information online.
I Googled my surgeon's name the moment I found out which physician would be performing my procedure. While the nurse on the phone was telling me pre-op information, I was reading the surgeon's credentials, skimming studies he'd published, and smirking at a photo of him with his dog.
These little insights into the career and life of this stranger who would be slicing me (further) open the next day gave me some comfort. He had attended the best universities. He had been at the hospital for 15 years. And in online reviews, patients seemed to like him.
My instant cyber-quest was not an anomaly. In fact, most Americans (54%) are going online to determine which physicians to see, what treatment to get, and what services a hospital or pharmacy might provide, according to Manhattan Research.
And the trend is still on the rise. The research firm found that 79% of patients diagnosed with a chronic disease in the previous three months, who were already active online, used the Internet to influence their care decisions compared with 53% who were diagnosed a year earlier.
This popular method of seeking information makes online reputation management all the more critical for physicians and hospitals. But for many, monitoring and actively updating their e-image is a major challenge.