Denver firm sterilizes
doctors' reputations

DENVER --, a Denver online reputation management firm, has introduced a new regimen designed to help doctors deflect criticism from disgruntled patients on the Internet. The program includes scouring the web for negative details and deleting inflammatory comments, then flooding the Internet with more positive content.

The firm maintains that poor reviews on sites like Yelp or Avvo can seriously damage a doctor's personal brand. A Pew Research Center study, they say, reports that 1 in 3 people use the Internet to research a medical condition, and many more might use the Web to research prospective physicians.

In some cases, says doctors using social media sites can be their own worst publicist. According to a company press release, "some of these professionals share things that they really shouldn't be sharing, including photographs that include alcohol, comments that might be considered racist or demeaning details about the patients they treat. All of these snippets could be culled and collected, and could form the basis of a sophisticated and comprehensive attack on the doctor's reputation."

The company uses programmers to scour the terms of use of some sites in order to remove content that violates guidelines. In some cases, they work with the site administrators to remove content that's libelous or otherwise defamatory. Programmers can also monitor a doctor's private social media account and remove information that might be shared inappropriately.