The number of Americans using review websites such as RateMDs, Healthgrades, ZocDoc and Vitals is increasing exponentially. Needless to say, this is the new word-of-mouth for physicians, hospitals and all other healthcare providers, which can attract new patients if leveraged correctly.
According to a survey published in 2014 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the use of online reviews and testimonials to select physicians is growing rapidly and is of increasing importance to consumers. The results 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. Considering the high level of impact that reviews have on those who read them, healthcare providers must take deliberate actions to manage them to their advantage.
Using patient reviews to attract and engage new patients
Of course, you would want reviews for your practice – and yes, the positive ones. Everyone knows for a fact that potential patients look for you over the Internet and conduct thorough research about you on various review websites. Potential patients take these reviews as experiences coming directly from patients who have already had a consultation at your practice. More positive reviews mean higher chances of attracting new patients to your practice.
The catch is to get your happiest patients to do the talking. But as a matter of fact, unsatisfied patients are more likely to post a review about their experience at your practice. Getting reviews from your satisfied patients can be a tough task. But there is a solution to this that is pretty easy. You can simply ask your regular patients to write a review about your practice. Yes, it’s that simple. Many providers often overlook this easy way of getting positive reviews, assuming that patients do not want to take the time to leave a review. There will definitely be a bunch of happy and satisfied patients who visit your practice frequently. Based on your rapport with them, you can humbly ask them to rate your practice and write a short review on the most preferred local physician-rating website.
Take the first step to protect your online reputation and request your Online Reputation Assessment.
Proactively engaging and communicating with patients to address their concerns and grievances can go a long way in converting the unsatisfied patients to satisfied ones. These conversations in turn serve as a foundation to attract potential patients who observe them carefully and form an opinion about your practice. Responding to reviews, both good and bad, creates an image of credibility – and those who see your responses get the feeling that you care about your patients and are committed to delivering the best health services in your practice.
Take lessons from feedback/suggestions and use them as building blocks to improve your services. Accept and apologize wherever you feel there was a lack on your part in providing services to patients. An annoyed patient can become your ally if you make an effort to resolve grievances as quickly as possible.
While the world is connected through the Internet today, it’s quite hard to understate the importance of online patient experiences. Reviews are your online digital footprints. You can no longer afford to ignore the online reviews. Harness them build your practice’s online visibility and grow your patients.