The trend of Yelpification (the phenomenon of people becoming more aware of a business through online reviews) that was once absolutely new for the healthcare industry – is increasingly gaining momentum now. Once a patient writes something negative about you or your practice, it becomes a permanent record that anyone who looks you up can find. While positive views can help build a positive online reputation, negative ones can knock it down.
The digital revolution has gripped the field of healthcare, as well, and has created a profound effect on the practice and business of medicine. Online reputation is as important as your real-life reputation but ironically, it’s much more difficult to control. Online reviews about your practice carry great weight, as potential customers may see reviews before they see your website. If the reviews are positive, it can do wonders for the growth of your practice but if there are incorrect, biased or flat-out faulty views expressed on the Internet, they can cause a severe negative impact on your practice.
The Internet never forgets anything
With the Internet, social web and review websites words spread like wildfire and the impact is definitely widespread. These platforms have transformed the way we communicate as a society. Web-smart patients just turn to physician-review websites to select the best physician for healthcare issues. Looking at other side, the trend of posting reviews on doctor-rating sites is growing at a very fast pace. Patients post anonymous comments about physicians and their experiences with them. The Internet never forgets anything. Once a patient writes something negative about you or your practice, it becomes a permanent record that anyone who looks you up can find.
Don’t let those “1 star” reviews downturn your reputation
For a physician, the most important intangible aspect of their practice is his or her reputation. In the field of healthcare, it’s next to impossible to deliver 100 percent satisfactory results to all patients. Among your patients, there will always be some who will be miffed about one thing or another. Physician-review websites provide them with an easy and accessible platform to express their anger and reasons for being dissatisfied, that too under the cover of anonymity. This is the origin of problems for your practice, as there can be thousands of people reading these reviews. If you stay ignorant or choose not to address these negative or biased views, it may sweep away the chance for many potential patients, who consult the Internet before booking an appointment with a physician to visit your practice.
How should you handle negative reviews or comments?
A negative or a bad review may carry a lot of weight, but it’s not the end of the world. As a practitioner, you have no control over what patients write about you, but you can definitely control your responses to their reviews.
Don’t be a silent watchman to the reviews
Take the first step to protect your online reputation and request your Online Reputation Assessment.
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. Don’t fear a professional online interaction, but always maintain privacy and confidentiality of patient information.
Be “proactive” rather than “reactive”
Try to personally respond to negative posts. Be humble and apologize wherever you feel there was some lack in service delivery to the patient. You can extend an invitation to the concerned patient and take the conversation on an alternate platform such as phone or email. This is a better way to resolve the issues as there is a direct interaction with the patient, and the communication is not visible publically.
Figure out the “right way” to fight negative online reviews
Whatever might have been the reason to post a negative comment, many times people just want to be heard. By responding appropriately to reviews, feedback or complaints, you can gain the confidence of patients and potential patients who are reading the reviews. Always remember to set objectives for each review response and make sure the response is personalized.
Turn criticism into a positive outlook
Always keep a note of the fact that potential patients track your online profiles and analyze the way you respond to reviews. Based on this they make a decision – whether your services are worthy for them or not. Capitalize on this! Don’t ever ignore unhappy patients or negative experiences they have stated. A key to resolve their negativity is to strike up a conversation with them and own up to mistakes that may have occurred. In any case, 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.
Physicians and other healthcare providers can no longer choose to ignore the online reviews. It’s time they harness the power of reviews to build brand entity and increase patient count at their practice.