As a practice administrator or physician, you know how important it is to earn and maintain your patients' trust. You no doubt work as hard as you can to deliver compassionate, quality care on a constant basis — yet you can't always control what is said about your practice online.

You can, however, take steps to make the best impression possible. Reputation management is a key strategy for shoring up the way your practice appears online, especially when it comes to reviews — and it's crucial to maintain.

2018 data from Software Advice found that 72% of consumers use online reviews when selecting a new physician; what's more, the 2019 Bright Local Customer Review Survey found that 82% of consumers read local reviews for businesses in their area. Also, the 2019 Patient Pop Online Reputation Survey found that 69.9% consider a doctor's online reputation to be extremely important.

How do you employ reputation management techniques to ensure that your current and potential patients get a fair and balanced online picture of the care you give? Focus on the following five key areas to make sure your bases are adequately covered and so that you can quickly do everything you can to fix any issues you find, correcting misconceptions and making sure your practice is looking as competent as it truly is.

First, monitor and analyze the comments you get.

There's a great benefit to looking for patterns in both the praise and criticism you receive so you can build on what patients are praising you for and immediately address problems that need your essential attention.

This can seem a bit challenging, though, and be a bit jarring. The reason for this is that your patients may not be as honest with you face to face as they are online in an anonymous forum — even though you may recognize who a parent is even if she or she is posting via an avatar based on the details they provide in a review.

Don't be insulted in this kind of situation — understand your patients may be intimidated to express their feelings to you at an appointment to preserve their overall relationship with you. Don't take any adverse comments personally — resolve to use what you learn.

Craft an appropriate public response.

How to respond online to a complaint without risking HIPAA violations may seem sticky and complicated but is actually easy. A simple response such as, "We are concerned that you feel that way, and we are not quite sure as to the details while you do. You will be receiving a call from our practice within 24 hours. We want to work with you to resolve this issue." A note of concern and the willingness to swiftly address a problem is always the right way to proceed.

Eliminate information that is categorically untrue.

Making sure inaccurate, outdated or false negative information about your practice does not erode your patients' trust or dissuade new patients. You should consult the administrative head of your healthcare organization for guidance on the policy they want you to use when doing this in all situations, always.

Make sure doctors in your practice group make good online impressions.

Your physicians need to be scrupulous when it comes to responsible use of social media; letting them know when a private Instagram is appropriate is a good place to start with instilling this measure.

Your physicians should also immediately make you aware of any complaints they personally receive in reviews before they attempt to respond themselves or ignore the complaints completely. You always need to be in the loop.

Ensure your practice appears on the right websites and properly in search results.

High-traffic consumer sites like Healthgrades and virtual care resources like PlushCare may be great places to begin. A Yelp listing is terrific as well when you seek to raise your Google "near me" result rank so patients in your local area can easily find you.

The bottom line: your patients will review you no matter what you do, so don't fear this, embrace it! The best way to make sure you're making a positive impact is to always give quality care — your reviews will reflect that great effort now and always.