The trend of Yelpification (the phenomenon of people becoming more aware of a business through online reviews) of the healthcare industry is increasingly gaining momentum. Physicians can no longer choose to ignore it. It’s time they harness the power of reviews to build brand entity and increase patient count at their practice.
Impact and Importance of patient reviews
The world is evolving each day as digitalization has made its way into our lives. The Internet has established its roots in our lives to an extent that we refer to it even if we have to buy a refrigerator. The process is simple: You just have to log on to any rating website, read what others are saying about the different options available and make a decision to buy one.
This change has slowly carved its way into the healthcare industry, as well. According to an article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the trend of using online reviews and ratings to select physicians is growing rapidly. More and more people now prefer to refer to these websites before making decision to visit a physician. Results of the survey show that 40% of patients think physician ratings on websites are “somewhat important” and of those who used the web to search for a physician, 35% selected a doctor based on good ratings. In addition, 27% of these web users reported avoiding a provider with bad ratings.
Online reputation management has taken center stage, and managing a positive digital reputation is becoming ever more important. As a physician, you can be so busy with your daily schedules and appointment, that you barely get time to go to the Internet and see what people are saying about you. Even worse, once in a while when you are able to spare some time to read about yourself on the Internet, you see some negative reviews written about you or your practice. You feel shattered, disgraced and decide you’ll never go back online or to that website again. But does that solve the problem? Will it stop people from posting about you and rating your practice on physician-rating websites and social media? The answer is a clear NO!
How can physicians turn patient reviews to a strategic advantage?
Good patient reviews help develop trust and credibility for a physician’s practice. Unfortunately, not all patients are satisfied with the services provided by a practitioner. Hostile/biased/false reviews from dissatisfied patients can be a setback as these are visible to all other prospective patients as well, who will make a decision to visit a physician or not based on these reviews.
The good news is by being proactive about online reputation management and responding effectively to online customer reviews, physicians can turn the tables around in their favor. A well-crafted response to a bad review can help protect your online reputation, minimize the review’s negative impact and help create a sense of credibility. On the other hand, a humble response to a five-star/positive review can reinforce customer satisfaction and act as a catalyst for positive word-of- mouth.
Let’s have a look at some tips by which physicians can turn patient reviews to their advantage
Routinely monitor your reviews and ratings
In this era of Internet and social networking sites, it’s mandatory for physicians to routinely monitor their own Internet presence to know what is being written about their practice.
Take the first step to protect your online reputation and request your Online Reputation Assessment.
Create and monitor your profile on physician rating websites
The physician rating websites such as HealthGrades, RateMyMD, Yelp, Vitals, etc. are gaining popularity at an alarming rate. Create your profile on major rating websites so that you are aware of what is being said about you. Patients post reviews, opinions and feedback on these sites, which will give you an insight into their mind-sets. There might be some reviews revolving around genuine issues at your practice such as long waiting hours, cleanliness issues, staff friendliness, etc. that can be resolved for better patient service.
Don’t be a silent watchman to the reviews
You can’t just let them sit and see your online reputation going down the drain. Try to be humble and apologize wherever you feel there was some lack in services. Focus on coming up with a solution for the problems. Your attitude about resolving issues and delivering the best possible services will be visible to all your patients and prospective patients. It indicates transparency within your medical practice and creates a sense of trust and credibility.
Turn criticism into a positive outlook
Always remember that potential patients tracking your online profiles and the way you respond to reviews is the decisive factor on whether your services are worthy for them or not. Capitalize on this! Don’t ignore unhappy patients or negative experiences they have stated. Strike up a conversation with them and own up to mistakes that may have occurred. Just assure your patients that their health is of prime importance and you’ll do your best to resolve issues and provide the best healthcare services.
Respond reasonably to a positive review
While this might sound like the easiest part, surprisingly it isn’t! While responding to the positive reviews, always accept them in a natural way with gratitude. Just remember to be brief, fair and pleasant. That’s it! There should be no invites for events or promotion of your practice, no reaction to any minor complaint which the reviewer may have made or any requests to spread the word about you! It can be misinterpreted as a negative form of promotion, so the wise thing would be to just thank the reviewer humbly.
In this era of patient-powered health, physicians can no longer choose to be silent spectators. Reviews not only provide wider bandwidth for brand building, but also help build trust and credibility between physicians and patients. Physicians must make calculated efforts to leverage them to their advantage.