Online reviews aren’t just important for restaurants and local businesses — they make a difference for healthcare providers as well! More and more people are turning to online reviews sites such as Yelp, Healthgrades, and RateMDs to search for information about doctors and healthcare facilities, or to share their own experiences as patients. They’re reviewing providers on various factors, from quality of treatment and doctor listening skills to logistics such as wait times and parking.
According to a survey by Software Advice, 42% of patients surveyed in 2014 said they used online reviews, compared to just 25% in 2013. That’s a 68% increase! The survey also showed that 44% of patients surveyed said they would be willing to select an out-of-network doctor if that doctor had better reviews.
From these numbers, it’s clear to see that patient reviews are on the rise, and they actually make a difference when it comes to patient decisions. Translation: as a healthcare provider, you simply can’t afford to act like online reviews don’t exist or don’t matter. You need a clear strategy for managing your online reputation!
Don’t have any or many online reviews? Focus on getting more. (When you don’t have enough reviews, one or two negative ones can throw off your entire rating and create an inaccurate image of your healthcare services.) If you do already receive a steady flow of reviews, monitor them and take action when it’s time to improve your online reputation. These steps are crucial for your overall healthcare marketing plan.
Here are just few strategies for managing your patient reviews and online reputation:
- Know what patients are writing about you, your practice, or your healthcare organization online.
- Claim your profiles on online review websites and keep them up-to-date.
- Remind patients where they can leave reviews.
- Privately respond to negative reviews and address the reviewer’s concerns. Or, if you respond publicly, proceed with great caution and be sure to stay in compliance with HIPAA.
- Use negative reviews to find opportunities to improve your practice or facility.
The more positive reviews you get, the more you or your organization will stand out to patients who are searching online for healthcare services. Also, getting more active about your online reviews could even potentially improve your visibility in search engines!
There’s a lot more to learn about patient reviews. For a more in-depth overview of how to implement the online review strategies listed above, download our free “Online Reviews Survival Guide” for healthcare providers!
About the Author:
As Vice President of Healthcare Operations at Scorpion, Cody Chula oversees service for the accounts of all new and existing healthcare clients. He is directly responsible for ensuring that clients are fully satisfied with their online marketing plans and with their experience at Scorpion. In his free time, he enjoys hiking, snowboarding, and spending time with his family.