Surveys show that 66.3% of consumers view patient reviews online as an influential way to choose a new physician.
More importantly, is that patients have a higher likelihood of leaving positive reviews for their healthcare provider in 2019 than compared to 2018.
This only further confirms that online reviews for doctors are more important than ever. More positive reviews mean a better online reputation, and that will help you attract and retain more patients. To get more reviews, we suggest the following tips:
- Start asking your patients for reviews
- Improve the patient experience
- Respond to current patient reviews
Start Asking Your Patients for Reviews
Patient satisfaction surveys have always been part of the post-visit playbook for healthcare organizations, but hospitals and clinics also need to start asking their patients to leave them reviews on public-facing review sites like Google, RateMD, Facebook, and Vitals.
The simple truth is that people won’t leave a review unless you ask, and review sites are where your new patients are checking before deciding to book an appointment.
Asking your patients for reviews in a thoughtful and meaningful way means you’ll need to time your request email campaigns appropriately.
For example, a hospital doesn’t want to ask people for reviews while they are undergoing a difficult treatment, and a cosmetic surgery clinic doesn’t want to ask people to review them while they are still recovering from surgery. Choose a sensible time to contact patients, and automate your review requests.
Get More Reviews by Improving the Patient Experience
A study from Prophet and the GE Healthcare Camden Group revealed that 81% of consumers are unsatisfied with their healthcare experience. That’s a staggering statistic especially a 2018 report from The Beryl Institute says that the patient experience is “significant to the healthcare decisions” of 91% of consumers.
Clearly, today’s healthcare consumers are more vocal than ever about the patient experience. They are looking beyond medical skill or quality of diagnosis in order to assess other aspects and interactions across the continuum of care such as bedside manner, office environment, and customer service.
Providers will need to go beyond the traditional “fix-what’s-broken” and place their focus on delivering better patient experiences. Healthcare is no longer just about treating illnesses and preventing disease; it’s about creating a stress-free experience and cultivating a meaningful doctor-patient relationship.
By creating a better patient experience, you create something that people are actually ready to promote online.
Get More Reviews by Responding to Existing Reviews
When consumers leave reviews, they expect a response to their feedback. Unfortunately, two-thirds of consumers never get a response, which is a lost opportunity.
Responding to reviews shows that you care, which is vital for any healthcare organization. Patients want to know that their reviews count for something and that it can affect the way a provider perceives patient care and experience.
It might seem easy to respond to every patient review, but organizations also need to be aware of existing HIPAA guidelines, which protect patient data. Violating HIPAA rules when responding to reviews bring potentially massive penalties in the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars.
One way to avoid having this issue is by creating pre-drafted responses. These responses not only tell the reviewer that the hospital or clinic is aware of their comments but also encourages them to take the conversation offline to provide more detailed feedback if needed.
With a carefully-worded response, any healthcare organization can leverage each review to improve the experience and show current and future patients that every piece of feedback is valuable.
The Voice of the Patient is More Persuasive Than Ever
The voice of the patient is louder and more persuasive than ever, with healthcare consumers turning to online reviews, social media, and healthcare sites to find a new doctor, make a decision about hospitals, and learn more about the quality of care.
Maintaining or improving a clinic’s online reputation requires listening, managing, and responding to patient reviews and feedback. Over time a review request process might be needed to further encourage patients to leave reviews.
All of these methods systematically improve ratings and generate the kind of social proof that furthers patient acquisition and retention. Related research also found that reviews tied to review requests recorded higher ratings than did unprompted reviews.
As the clout of healthcare consumers grows, so do their options. To encourage patients to promote their doctors, dentists and healthcare practitioners online, providers must first be able to listen to feedback, foster trusting relationships with patients, and consistently deliver experiences that captivate and go beyond achieving better health outcomes.
Len is the owner and Creative Director of Quiet City Design, a full-stack media marketing company based in Toronto, Canada. He is passionate about helping his clients leverage the internet to improve business online and offline. Those methods include website development and digital marketing as well as online review reputation management and online scheduling and appointment booking platforms for local business owners.