Posted on October 27, 2017

3 Ways to Maximize the Impact of Your Patient’s Online Reviews

The healthcare industry continues to evolve. No longer is an emphasis put on treatments; patients are now at the center of care. And, as new payment models reward value rather than volume, the concept of “patients as consumers” becomes the norm.

According to a survey by SoftwareAdvice.com, a leading provider of detailed reviews, comparisons and research for software buyers, 42% of patients say they use online physician reviews. While that may not come as a shock, the fact that 62% use online reviews as a first step to finding a new provider is a bit surprising. Even more intriguing, perhaps, is that nearly half of survey respondents indicated they would go out-of-network for a doctor with more favorable reviews.

If you’re a physician, this may seem like good news. And in one way it is.

The bad news, however, is that a 2012 study published by the Journal of General Internal Medicine found that 37% of the reviews left on sites like Yelp and RateMDs.com were negative. Visitors to these sites tend to look for negative reviews over good ones. And while many consumers rely on reviews to help them make decision, few take the time to actually write one.

The truth is, whether you like review sites or not, and whether you think they are valid or not, they are here to stay. Given the importance of patient satisfaction and the affect reviews can have on attracting new revenue to your practice, it’s time you get proactive and manage your online feedback.

Here are 5 ways you can maximize the impact of your patient reviews:

  1. Claim Your Online Profiles
    A quick Google search of your name will most likely return physician finder sites like Health Grades, ZocDoc, or Vitals. Be sure all of these platforms include up-to-date information that includes your practice’s website address, your contact information, and how long you’ve been in practice. You will want to do this for these sites as well as any applicable payer physician directories as well. Be sure to include an image of yourself. Consumers respond more favorably to marketing messages that include photos.
  2. As for Positive Feedback
    It’s not just the local coffee shop or bookstore that must ask customers for positive feedback, doctors have to as well. Post a sign in your waiting area that says you value patient feedback. Provide comment cards that can either be left in your office or mailed back and, with the patient’s permission, use the favorable ones on your own website.
  3. Stay Vigilant
    You will want to stay on top of your reviews and publicly respond to negative ones. Often a simple apology and commitment to improvement is enough to inspire patients to go back and change their reviews. Just be careful to never publicly discuss patient specifics as this is a major HIPAA violation.

Consider writing something like:
“Because of privacy regulations, we can’t discuss any specifics about your comments. However, we want you to know that we are committed to providing high quality care and we take your feedback very seriously.

Considering that reviews have the power to add or detract from your bottom line, we recommend you follow these tips and commit to maintaining a positive online presence.