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Establishing, Managing and Protecting Your Online Reputation: A Social Media Guide for Physicians and Medical Practices

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Don't Let Internet Critics Spoil Your Reputation

Online health information combined with social media channels like Twitter and Facebook has created a new generation of patients. They are empowered. They have a voice in their own care that they never had before. And more are using social media and physician review sites to choose their doctor or medical practice. Given these stakes, you can’t afford to leave your online reputation to chance.

Check out our latest online course on Building Your Online Presence

Also available in these eBook formats.


Kevin Pho, MD and Susan Gay

Book by Kevin Pho, MD ( and Susan Gay Explains How to Take Control of Your Online Presence. Foreword by Robert Wachter, MD.

Read the New York Times Review Here!

Kick off your social media efforts today with Establishing, Managing and Protecting Your Online Reputation: A Social Media Guide for Physicians and Medical Practices, a comprehensive resource not available anywhere else. In addition to unique insights from practicing physician and social media pioneer Kevin Pho, MD, this book offers doctors a step-by-step guide on how to use social media to manage an online reputation. It also provides insider tips on how to respond to online ratings and a guide to work with all of the major physician review sites. Don’t let others define you on the web. Take control of your online reputation now!

From the Foreword, Robert Wachter, MD says, "… whether we like it or not, our online reputation is becoming the main prism through which we will be known – to colleagues, to friends, to patients, to prospective employers … With this realization comes the recognition that we can no longer afford to be passive observers of our online persona."

Notable Features

  • Kevin Pho, MD and Susan Gay. Dr. Pho's blog,, is social media's leading physician voice, with over 100,000 subscribers on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and RSS. He is a contributor to USA Today, CNN, and the New York Times, and has been cited regularly by major media.
  • Backed by evidence, enhanced with stories! Anecdotes and case studies from social media leaders like Vineet Arora, MD, Katherine Chretien, MD, Natasha Burgert, MD, Dave deBronkart, Susannah Fox, Howard J. Luks, MD, Kerri Morrone Sparling, Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, and Bryan Vartabedian, MD.
  • The Foreword is written by Robert Wachter, MD, Professor of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. His blog, Wachter's World, is one of the nation's most influential, and Modern Physician has ranked him as one of the 50 most influential physicians in the U.S. for each of the last five years, the only academic physician to achieve this recognition.
  • Endorsements from Abraham Verghese, MD, Eric Topol, MD, Jerome Groopman, MD, Pamela Hartzband, MD, George Lundberg, MD, Paul Levy, Sandeep Jauhar, MD, Mike Sevilla, MD, Susan Turney, MD and many others.

What the book covers:

  • Why an online presence is important for doctors.
  • How patients use social media to find physicians and medical practices.
  • A step-by-step guide for how practices can brand themselves on the major social media sites (LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Google+, blogs) and drive Google traffic through content.
  • Profiles of the major ratings sites, including Vitals, Yelp,, Angie’s List, ZocDoc, Healthgrades and Google+ Local.
  • Tips to protect and manage your online reputation.
  • How to respond to online reviews.
  • Online professionalism guidelines and best practices.


  • Unlike guides written by professional marketing gurus, this book offers dozens of stories and case studies from the perspective of practicing physicians and engaged patients.
  • Online reputation management advice is often scattered on the web, requiring time and effort to find. This book consolidates this information in a single, handy resource.
  • Doctors and office managers know they need to "get involved with social media" but don’t know how or where to start. This book allows them to immediately tap into authoritative insight – in a calming way – not in an alarmist manner.
  • Instructions on how physicians can proactively create content and harness the power of social media to define an online reputation and provide better care for patients.
  • The practical format allows the reader to pick and choose from the sections most important to their practice.

Table of Contents

  • Foreword by Dr. Robert Wachter
  • Chapter 1: Disrupting the Healthcare Landscape
    • Social Media Is Not a Passing Fad
    • Consumers Do More than Look for Health Information Online
    • E-Patients: A New Breed
    • It's Still About the Doctor-Patient Relationship
    • Why Social Media Should Be Important to YOU
    • How Significant Are Online Doctor Reviews?
    • Can You Afford to Ignore Ratings and Social Media?
    • Reviews Are More Positive than You Think
    • Can Online Ratings Be Compared with Clinical Outcomes?
    • Large-Scale Initiatives Using Patient Ratings
    • Working Toward a Healthcare Partnership
  • Chapter 2: Your Online Reputation Today
    • How Patients Find Doctors Today
    • Why Your Online Identity Is Important
    • Getting to Know You
    • Not Everyone Is Convinced that Doctors Need a Strong Online Presence
    • Your Career Also Depends on Your Online Reputation
    • First, Do No Harm; Second, Get an Online Profile
    • What Search Engines Should You Use?
  • Chapter 3: Defining Your Online Identity Through Social Media
    • Social Media Can Be a Powerful Tool
    • Curate, Connect, and Make a Difference
    • The News Media Don’t Paint a Positive Picture
    • Establishing a Social Media Strategy to Create Your Own Content
    • Lurking as a First Step
    • Three Physician Social Media Success Stories
  • Chapter 4: Creating Your Digital Footprint
    • Introduction
    • Branding Strategies
    • LinkedIn: Your Professional Network
    • Facebook: Connect and Share
    • Facebook: Connect and Share
    • YouTube: Broadcast Your Practice
    • Blogs: Your Social Media Hub
    • Google: Mapping the Future
  • Chapter 5: Rating Sites
    • Angie’s List
    • DrScore
    • Google+ Local
    • Healthcare Reviews
    • Healthgrades
    • Insider Pages
    • Kudzu
    • RateMDs
    • Vitals
    • Yelp
    • ZocDoc
  • Chapter 6: Safeguarding Your Online Reputation
    • Making Social Media Work for You: Search Engine Optimization
    • Patient Satisfaction Is Now a Vital Metric
    • Set Up Alerts
    • The Scope of Online Reviews
    • Focus on the Positive
    • Invite Your Patients to Write Reviews
    • Use Reviews to Improve Your Practice
    • How to Respond to Negative Reviews
    • Don’t Stuff the Ballot Box
    • Lawsuits Are Not the Answer
    • Gag Orders Don’t Work Either
    • Outsourcing Reputation Management
  • Chapter 7: Professionalism in the Digital Age
    • Updating the Rules of Professionalism
    • The Price Shopper
    • Guide, Inform, and Teach
    • Protect yourself with a Social Media Policy and Disclaimer
    • A Higher Standard than HIPAA
    • Professionalism Applies to Physician-Only Sites Too
    • Communicating with Patients
    • Don’t Let Your Personal Social Media Life Distract You
    • Special Considerations for Young Practitioners, Residents, and Students
    • Navigate the Online Waters Mindfully
  • Chapter 8: Connect and Be Heard: My Journey from Social to Mainstream Media
    • It All Starts With You
    • The Time Was Changing
    • Crash Course in Health Policy
    • The Traditional Mainstream Media Is Calling
    • Opening the Social Doors
    • The Humanization of Medical Professionals
    • Changing Public Perception One Blog, Tweet, and Status Update at a Time
    • From Social to Mainstream Media
    • Be Ready for an Opportunity
    • Join the Conversation
    • No Training Required
    • Learn from Others in Our Field
    • Make a Difference in Healthcare
Kevin Pho

Kevin Pho, MD s a board-certified internal medicine physician and founder of, which Forbes called a “must-read health blog.” Klout named him the Web’s top social media influencer in healthcare and medicine, and CNN named @KevinMD one of its five recommended Twitter health feeds.

Transforming his social media presence into a mainstream media voice, he has been interviewed on the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric, and his commentary regularly appears in USA Today, where he is a member of its editorial Board of Contributors, as well as CNN and the New York Times. His opinion pieces highlight the challenges real world doctors face, ranging from the primary care shortage to the epidemic of physician burnout.

His dual perspectives as a practicing physician and a healthcare social media leader contribute to his unique social media journey. He shares his story in keynotes nationwide, with audiences that include the PRSA Health Academy, Healthcare Internet Conference, Massachusetts Medical Society, American Academy of Otolaryngology, Texas Medical Association, National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare, and PAINWeek.

Kevin practices primary care at Nashua Medical Group in Nashua, New Hampshire. He received his medical degree from and completed his residency at Boston University School of Medicine, and is a member of the New Hampshire Union Leader’s 2010 class of New Hampshire’s 40 Under Forty. He lives in Nashua with his wife and two daughters.

Susan Gay

Susan Gay is a medical publisher and content strategist with over 25 years experience in medical publishing leadership. Known for her foresight and vision in creating groundbreaking publications, she has published several hundred books, journals, and multimedia products, many of them market leaders. Her creative imprint can be seen in such pioneering works as The 5-Minute Clinical Consult and the Netter Collection reference works. As Vice President and Publisher at Williams & Wilkins (now Wolters Kluwer Health), Susan was the first clinical publisher to apply branding strategies to a clinical publishing program. Earlier in her career, she was an award-winning editor at Mosby and served as president of the American Medical Publishers Association.

As the digital era began to fundamentally reinvent medicine and healthcare delivery, Susan created her own firm to focus on providing multichannel content, creating greater brand awareness for professional information products, and helping publishers and societies extend their existing portfolios. She has worked with many companies and societies in the medical field including: American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, Sage Publications, Medcases, Springer, MediMedia, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Elsevier, Harcourt Health Sciences, and Thomson-PDR.

Through it all, Susan has had a keen eye toward the forces that shape medical practice. With a knack for identifying trends, Susan is known for recruiting and collaborating with cutting-edge authors to deliver much-needed information to practicing physicians. Today, she is focused on the digital future of healthcare and all that it means for clinical medicine, medical education, and information delivery. She has leveraged her experience in creating brands of information to help individual medical practices establish their own brands on the Web. Her partnership with Kevin Pho on this book has been instrumental in shaping one of the most important emerging concepts in the practice of medicine—that of creating a personal brand through social media.

"As the digital era inevitably invades the medical cocoon, there is a vital unmet need for physicians to adapt, especially to new challenges such as dealing with one's online reputation. Kevin Pho, a leader in the convergence of social media and healthcare, with Susan Gay, provide a comprehensive and extremely useful roadmap for doctors…Instead of default, sitting duck status, this information and perspective enables physicians to take charge."

Eric Topol, MD
Author, Creative Destruction of Medicine
Scripps Clinic and The Scripps Research Institute
La Jolla, CA

"With new technology comes new challenges, and that's especially true for medical practice managers as they look to evolve their practices in innovative and responsible ways. Social media channels, physician-rating sites, and other digital communities can directly affect your practice's online reputation – and reputation management is now within the purview of the practice management profession. But where do you start and how do you go about influencing something as nebulous, fast-changing, and splintered as online reputation? This book provides practice managers with the tools they need to feel more informed and equipped to take actionable steps recommended by some of the industry's leading experts."

Susan L Turney, MD, MS, FACMPE, FACP
MGMA President and CEO
Englewood, CO

"An insightful and thought-provoking examination of the changing landscape of medicine, filled with practical advice for clinicians."

Jerome Groopman MD and Pamela Hartzband MD
Authors, Your Medical Mind: How to Choose What Is Right for You
Brookline, MA

"I Google myself periodically, which has taught me about some of the misinformation on doctor review sites. I've since corrected a few errors. Now I realize I should do it more often and am considering starting a LinkedIn account!

This book gave me a new perspective on the relationship between doctors and social media. For those of us who feel timid, the authors remind us that we already have online profiles - written by other people. The authors give us easy, practical advice to help us manage our profiles and prepare ourselves to interact with our patients in a virtual community within which we already live."

Mollie Davis, MD, MPH
Physician, Internal Medicine & Pediatrics
Johns Hopkins Community Physicians
Baltimore, MD

"For the physician contemplating the use of social media, this lovely volume is a precious and invaluable guide."

Abraham Verghese MD, MACP
Professor and Senior Associate Chair for the Theory and Practice of Medicine
Author, Cutting for Stone
Stanford University School of Medicine
Stanford, CA

"This book is sensational. It provides an argument that wins hands-down on how doctors no longer have the luxury of ignoring social media and its impact. This book will help physicians understand and prepare themselves for social media's impact on their future."

Judy Capko
Founder, Capko & Company
Author, Secrets of the Best-Run Practices, 2nd Edition
Thousand Oaks, CA

"Establishing, Managing, and Protecting Your Online Reputation: A Social Media Guide for Physicians and Medical Practices is a primer on the essentials about why your medical digital footprint is important and how to best manage it. This must-read book also chronicles the path of Dr.Pho from the beginnings as an internal physician and patient advocate from New Hampshire to today as social media's leading physician voice via his very popular website,"

Mike Sevilla, MD
Family Practice Center of Salem
Salem, OH

"Medical practice reputation and branding by social media has been on my high-priority list. This book will be significant for every healthcare executive, physician leader, and governing board member! The content is clear, concise, and highly informative. It summarizes benefits, business opportunities, and threats, and provides specific go-to resources. The content calls out social media influences, both positive and negative, generating an awareness of the need to address the opportunities and risk immediately. The case examples are brief and resonate the must do implementation of policy and guideline structure within the practice and for physician members. This implementation planning guide responds not only to
the 'business' of medicine but to the progression regulatory mandated transparency.

The time investment in reading (significantly quick and interesting…. not tedious in any manner) becomes a double pay back. I found it stimulated me to take immediate action while the information was fresh and I plan to keep it close at hand as a book shelf resource reference and coaching material as my social media policies and procedures evolve. Dr. Pho and Ms. Gay have provided the busy healthcare executive with the tool kit of content for governance regarding social media exposure and a comprehensive resource list to build the policies.

After reading this material I was curious and compelled to immediately investigate resources suggested. I was astonished what I learned about our practice at social media sites. No more resting on our "reputation and laurels" of 26+ years of community contribution and service!

I recommend every administrator read and suggest this book be distributed to governing boards to better clarify their understanding of discussions of opportunities and threats evolving with social media to include those involving patients and staff social media activities. In summary, this is a very timely, noteworthy and must read to understand the critical business knowledge required to manage the impact of social media on the medical practice industry!"

Rebecca S. Dean, MA, FACMPE
Chief Executive Officer
Sportsmedicine & Orthopaedics Fairbanks
Fairbanks, AK

"Every physician and practice marketing manager will find value in this book—from the techno-skeptic to the sophisticate. You'll get perspectives and references that will help you form your own online strategy. I know I did!"

Karen Zupko
Karen Zupko & Associates
Chicago, IL

"A doctor's greatest strength is his or her reputation. We spend our entire professional lives creating and protecting this valuable asset. Dr. Pho and Ms. Gay have provided the necessary steps and techniques to guard and protect your online reputation. I highly recommend their book and believe that everyone who reads it will have the tools and techniques to keep their reputation polished and pristine."

Neil Baum, MD
Author, Marketing Your Clinical Practices: Ethically, Effectively, Economically, 4th Edition
Clinical Associate Professor of Urology
Tulane Medical School
New Orleans, LA

"Social media is here to stay! Establishing, Managing, and Protecting Your Online Reputation is a must-have book for every physician and/or medical practice involved in social media. Dr. Pho ( has once again proven that his knowledge is valuable in today's technology-driven world. I would highly recommend every medical office manager and physician read this book before getting heavily involved in social media!"

Desiree R. Baylin, CPM, CHRS, COM
Executive Director
Physician Office Managers Association of America (POMAA)
Dallastown, PA

"It takes a lifetime to build a reputation but only a single act, blog, email, online comment, Facebook post, texted picture, or Tweet to destroy it. That's because online communication may go massive instantly. And it's the reason the 'mainstream media, including medical journals and medical television, have editors and peer reviewers and build in a delay factor. Keeping egg off authors' faces, protecting authors from themselves, and protecting readers are key roles for editors and peer reviewers.

Physicians want to succeed. They often adopt new technology very quickly if it will help them do their jobs better and faster, and especially if it generates new revenue. If not, they wisely drag their feet. They became rapid adapters of Internet 1.0, one-way communication, rapid digital access to the world literature. But physicians have been very slow at adopting Internet 2.0, bi- and multi-directional messaging. They like to speak; to listen, not so much. To judge, a great deal; to be judged, very little.

However, social media will not go away. In some form, or many forms, it is here to stay. And it refuses to be ignored. Most of the social spheres have adopted it; many have embraced it. It can bite you, doctor, badly, and you may not even know it unless you are plugged in. It may be as virulent to your reputation and welfare as rabies, and there is no vaccine, save your informed involvement.

This the newest, most comprehensive, most detailed and up-to-date reference source available to American physicians and medical practices. Richly nuanced by America's most popular and authoritative physician blogger and social media expert, it can guide you through this swamp - maybe not clean, but ready to move forward."

George D. Lundberg, MD
Editor in Chief, CollabRx
Editor at Large, MedPage Today
President, The Lundberg Institute
Consulting Professor, Stanford University
Los Gatos, CA

"Establishing, Managing, and Protecting Your Online Reputation: A Social Media Guide for Physicians and Medical Practices is written as both an educational and instructional tool to help medical practitioners understand and manage their online reputation in the medical sector. In today's world, this is absolutely crucial and these authors have simplified the process. This is a must-read for medical practitioners and all others in the medical field."

Chad Schwarz
Integrated MedReps, LLC
Morganville, NJ

"Social media is the wave of the future in medicine, and I can't think of a doctor more qualified to write about this phenomenon than Kevin Pho. This book is essential reading for any doctor or medical practice looking to establish an online presence."

Sandeep Jauhar, MD
Author, Intern: A Doctor's Initiation
Long Island Jewish Medical Center
Dept. of Cardiology
New Hyde Park, NY

"In this new online social media age, it is imperative that everyone, but most especially professionals looking to build, grow, and maintain a business or a practice, establish a good reputation online. And even more importantly, to make sure that their online presence is properly monitored and maintained, as this can be the life blood of their business and can truly provide a 'make it or break it' opportunity. I would recommend that all physicians, no matter where they are in building their practice, or even for those who already have a well-established practice, read this book and strongly consider the excellent ideas and direction it could take their practice."

Reed Tinsley, CPA, CVA, CFP, CHBC
A Houston-based CPA and certified healthcare business consultant
Houston, TX

"Dr. Kevin Pho is a modern legend of healthcare-related social media. His website,, is the go-to physician blog for healthcare information. Dr. Pho has compiled his years of experience and knowledge into a fantastic book that should be considered required reading for all doctors. Social media is the future of doctor–patient communication, and this book provides a comprehensive guide to navigating the social media arena. From LinkedIn to Facebook, to Twitter, to Google+, readers will learn how to become the maestro of their online reputation, marketing, and communication with patients. Very highly recommended!"

Anthony Youn, MD, FACS
YOUN Plastic Surgery, PLLC
Troy, MI

"As one of the most prolific practitioners in the world of social media, Kevin Pho's insights for doctors and other health professionals are soundly based on experience. His ability to demystify this arena for others comes from a clear and concise exposition of what is fact and what is fear. His book is an important contribution to creating a more patient-centric healthcare system that is also highly respectful of the knowledge and good intentions of physicians and other clinicians."

Paul F. Levy
Former CEO, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Author, Goal Play! Leadership Lessons from the Soccer Field
Newton, MA 

"This book provides valuable insight to physicians and their staff… a virtual roadmap to navigate the digital age of establishing a positive online presence, developing marketing strategies, and addressing social media identities. It's a must-read for today's 21st century digital medical practice!"

Rebecca Umberger, CMA (AAMA), CPM
Aultman MSO, Aultman Hospital
Maternal and Fetal Management
Canton, OH

"The insights that Dr. Pho and Ms. Gay share in their book are instrumental in learning how social media will impact an outpatient practice and more importantly the physician's reputation. They provide great content and examples to help physicians have a strong and positive Internet presence. A must-read for healthcare administrators and healthcare providers."

Danielle DeMaio-DeAngelis, MHA, COPM
Jefferson University Physicians
Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery
Philadelphia, PA

"For private practice physicians, reputation management is here to stay. In this ground-breaking book, Kevin Pho and Susan Gay provide you with the language, the players, and the smart techniques to take control of your reputation online. The energy of these authors (and their purpose) translates into winning techniques you can use in your own practice. The book includes practical stories and up-to-date references. It is beautifully researched and edited. Take control of your own reputation now!"

John Guiliana, DPM, MS and Hal Ornstein, DPM, FASPS
Authors, 31 ½ Essentials for Running Your Medical Practice
Blairstown, NJ and Howell, NJ

"Establishing, Managing and Protecting Your Online Reputation: A Social Media Guide for Physicians and Medical Practices could not have come at a better time. Dr. Kevin Pho and Susan Gay have written a book that will be a great service for practice administrators and business managers. Administrators know physician reputation has an impact on the success of the practice. We also know that monitoring and managing the physician reputation is a growing concern for all medical practices. Patients don't look for doctors in the Yellow Pages like they used to! Now it is all online. Read this book and you'll have the both the inspiration and a bluep

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