Getting patients to post online reviews about physicians, dentists, chiropractors and other healthcare providers is easy if you follow the steps here.
In the digital age, patients are going to review you online whether you want them to or not.
Patients will use Facebook to share the details of how long they sat in your waiting room, and dissect your bedside manner on Yelp. Have you had a patient post a photo of their cyst removal on RealSelf or Healthgrades yet? Just wait.
There's no use ignoring the trend, so how can you get patients to write reviews? The same way you handle anything in your practice that needs to be managed:
Systemize your approach to growing positive reviews... and grow your practice.
Online Reviews For Healthcare Providers Matter
It's not just coffee shops and bars that benefit from online reviews. More and more patients are reading reviews when making decisions about doctors.
In a 2013 survey conducted by Software Advice, 25 percent of patients reported reading doctor reviews; by 2014, that figure had risen to 42 percent.
The same survey revealed a lot of interesting information about how patients feel about reviews:
- 44% of people surveyed said they would consider going to an out-of-network doctor if his/her reviews were better than those of in-network doctors.
- Yelp was the most popular site for patients to read or write reviews, followed by Healthgrades, RateMDs, Vitals, ZocDoc and others.
- Yelp and Healthgrades were tied as the most trustworthy site for reviews.
- Of the people who consulted online reviews, 61% read reviews before choosing a doctor.
- Patients were most interested in information about overall ratings, quality of care, accuracy of diagnosis, communication skills and wait times.
The medical field is also one in which reviews carry the most weight for consumers.
In the BrightLocal Local Consumer Review Survey 2016, medical and health care professionals represented the third-most read category of reviews, following restaurants and hotels.
The survey also determined that healthcare is one of the fields in which reputation matters most.
More Benefits Of Online Reviews For Doctors
Having a steady stream of (hopefully positive) reviews is about more than just appealing to the people who read these review sites. When people in your community write about you online, it affects your SEO (search engine optimization).
Here's a scenario that explains it:
- Dr. A and Dr. B both live in Tampa. They both practice family medicine, their credentials are about equal, and they're both liked by patients. Dr. A has 100 online reviews across several review sites, while Dr. B has just a few old Yelp reviews.
- Patient X searches Google for "family doctor in Tampa." Because Dr. A has a stronger online presence and more reviews, she comes up first in the search results, while Dr. B is on page three of the results. Patient X will probably end up choosing Dr. A.
That's why SEO is important. More reviews = better rankings in local search engines.
Another perk of reviews? People like to share the ones they write on social media. So when Patient X writes a rave of Dr. A and shares it on Facebook, hundreds of people see it.
You can ask your patients to write reviews yourself, but it might be more comfortable to let your staff (or HIPAA-compliant online review software) handle these requests, rather than putting patients on the spot in the exam room.
- Have your front desk staff make friendly, polite conversation with every patient at the end of a visit. In order to get positive reviews, it's important that they take just a little time to connect with each patient.
- Tell staff to ask for verbal reviews by saying things like, "How was your visit today?" Note that they shouldn't ask leading questions about any particular aspect of the visit which could be interpreted as prying, or a privacy violation (more on this below).
When a patient says that the experience was good, front desk staff should respond by saying something like, "That's great! If you have a chance we'd really appreciate it if you'd post a review on Yelp or Google - it helps spread the word and helps other patients find us."
Of course staff should not ask patients who are unhappy, uncomfortable or rushed to post an online review.
- Rotate the review sites that your staff mentions to patients. Some people will search healthcare-related sites like Healthgrades, RealSelf, ZocDoc, etc, while others will gravitate towards more general review sites like Yelp, Facebook, and Google.
- Use an automated system like ReputationStacker to make sure you're reaching all your satisfied patients and take the burden of asking for reviews off your staff.
The system automatically contacts your patients via email or SMS text message with a one-question survey, then asks happy patients to write reviews and diverts unhappy patients back to you so you can address their concerns.
ReputationStacker's Premium Plan was specifically built with healthcare providers in mind, in that it has an additional layer of encryption at the server level in order to be HIPAA and PIPEDA compliant.
Online Reviews And Privacy Concerns
Many healthcare providers who think about online reviews are rightfully concerned about privacy laws dictated by HIPAA (in the U.S.) and PIPEDA (in Canada).
Requesting reviews is generally not a violation of healthcare privacy laws - but if you're reaching out to patients via email or text to ask for reviews, do so only with patients who have agreed to receive communications from you (most intake paperwork includes this standard language).
You do need to be very conscious of these laws when replying to reviews posted about you. In other businesses, it may be legal to respond to an inaccurate review by reporting the facts of what really happened. But you can't risk violating a patient's privacy by revealing anything about them or their care, so be prepared to bite your tongue if a patient reviews you negatively.
Many satisfied patients will write you reviews if you ask them to.
The biggest hurdle is training your staff so they know when and how to ask for reviews. It's a hurdle worth tackling though because patients put a great deal of weight into online reviews when choosing their healthcare providers.
Using an automated system like ReputationStacker will greatly simplify the process and help you get all the positive reviews you deserve.