In today’s digital age, online reputation is more important than ever, especially for healthcare practices. The internet has transformed how people get information and decide which doctor or healthcare practitioner to see. Now, patients rely on online resources to research physicians, read reviews, and make appointments.
As a result, healthcare practices must pay attention to their online reputation to stay competitive and maintain patient trust. In this blog article, we will explore why online reputation management matters for healthcare practices and provide some tips for effectively managing your reputation.
What Is Healthcare Reputation Management?
Healthcare reputation management is the process of monitoring and influencing how patients and the general public perceive a practice online. Healthcare professionals must pay attention to their online reputation, as patients increasingly rely on online review sites to research all types of providers before deciding which practice to go to. A negative online reputation can harm a practice’s bottom line, as patients may choose a competing practice with a higher rating instead.
An effective healthcare reputation management process involves monitoring your practice’s reputation across all channels, including general review websites, social media platforms, and healthcare-specific review websites. Tracking mentions of your establishment online can help you quickly address any negative reviews or feedback before they influence would-be patients and damage your reputation. Taking a proactive approach to online reputation management can help improve customer satisfaction, boost patient loyalty, and ultimately help you grow your practice.
Another critical aspect of online healthcare reputation management is engaging with your patients online. Healthcare professionals can now demonstrate their commitment to patient care and build trust with potential patients by responding to reviews, answering questions on social media, and creating informative web content. Being hands-on with your online reputation can help bring in new patients, retain existing patients, and position your practice as a leader in your field. Just be careful to avoid including any specific patient health-related matters in public forums in order to prevent violating healthcare regulations.
Why Online Reviews Matter for Healthcare Providers
It’s not just restaurants and retail chains that have to worry about online reviews now, as patients are increasingly reading reviews before deciding who they trust with their health.
In a recent survey conducted by Software Advice, 25 percent of patients reported reading doctor reviews; only one year later, that figure had risen to 42 percent.
The same survey revealed a lot of insights about how patients feel about reviews:
- 44% of people surveyed said they would consider going to an out-of-network doctor if their 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, and ZocDoc.
- Yelp and Healthgrades are tied as the most trustworthy sites 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, the 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 most recent BrightLocal Local Consumer Review Survey, medical and healthcare professionals represented the third-most read category of reviews, after restaurants and hotels.
This survey determined that healthcare is one of the fields in which reputation matters most.
Healthcare Review Sites You Should Be On
Customer reviews inspire trust, which engages customers and improves business. Patients also want the best care they can find, so it makes sense for doctors and healthcare providers to set up review site profiles to start gaining patient reviews.
It can be a difficult choice for doctors that haven’t created any profiles yet, as there are many doctor review sites to choose from. Learn about some of the most popular healthcare review sites below.
Healthgrades started in 1998, which makes it one of the most established healthcare directories for patients looking to find doctors and read reviews. The directory and review site receives more than 20 million visitors each month, with information on over 3 million US healthcare providers.
For doctors and health professionals, Healthgrades uses a 5-star review rating system that allows replies and rankings based on the reviews received. Healthgrades is arguably the most popular healthcare directory, which makes it a great first choice for doctors looking to grow their reputation through reviews.
Zocdoc was founded by doctors in 2007, so it was created with medical professionals in mind.
Zocdoc is popular for patients because appointments can be booked through the site itself, with general appointment turnarounds of less than 24 hours. As a result, over six million patients use Zocdoc each month, which makes it one of the top platforms for healthcare providers to join.
Doctors can collect reviews and 5-star ratings as well as profile “badges” (such as “Patients often return”) and get featured on Zocdoc’s home page if their patient care is highly recommended.
CareDash is another directory and review site that helps patients find and connect with their ideal healthcare provider through location, specialty, and reputation. CareDash was founded in 2016, with over 30,000 reviews and ratings to date. Similar to Zocdoc, it also allows patients to book appointments via doctor profiles.
Doctors on CareDash are rated overall from 1 to 5 stars, in addition to “Patient Experience”, which involves time, loyalty, ability to answer questions, follow-ups, thoroughness, and more. Doctors can also receive recommendations.
In searches, CareDash displays a patient review under each doctor’s profile, which is a great feature for doctors with a majority of positive reviews.
If your specialty is cosmetic procedures, RealSelf is a directory and review site dedicated to plastic surgery, liposuction, augmentations, implants, and more.
RealSelf was founded in 2006 and now has over 30,000 registered doctors and more than 2 million patient reviews posted across the site.
Ratings on RealSelf follow a simple system of written patient reviews with ratings of 1 to 5 stars. RealSelf is focused on helping patients find trusted cosmetic surgeons – cosmetic surgeons who also want to improve their online reputation and grow their patient list.
How to Get Patients to Write Reviews
Getting online reviews from patients about healthcare providers, such as physicians, dentists, and chiropractors, can be as easy as implementing a few straightforward steps. Today, patients are inclined to share their experiences online regardless of any reservations providers may have.
It is not uncommon for patients to get on review platforms, such as Facebook, Google, or Yelp, and write about their waiting room experience and the provider’s bedside manner.
The question is, how do you get satisfied patients to leave reviews online? Here are some steps to get you started.
Ask for Verbal Reviews
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.
When a patient says 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.”
Rotate Review Sites You Mention
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
Use an automated review system like ReputationStacker to ensure you’re reaching all your satisfied patients and take the burden of asking for reviews away from your staff.
The system automatically contacts your patients via email or SMS text message with a one-question survey, then makes it easy for them to share their feedback as an online review.
ReputationStacker’s Professional 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.
The internet has revolutionized how people gather information and make healthcare decisions. Online reputation is critical for healthcare practices to remain competitive and earn patient trust.
By taking a proactive approach to online reputation management, healthcare providers can effectively engage with patients and enhance their reputation. The tips in this blog can serve as a good starting point for healthcare practices looking to optimize their online reputation and attract more patients.
Ian Kirby has been working in digital marketing for over 15 years. Having worked both with and for digital marketing agencies and in-house with multiple companies, he has a specific interest and expertise in online reputation management, online reviews, and the implementation of business systems. Ian’s writing, videos, and interviews have garnered millions of reads, views, and listens.