Recently, online healthcare review site Healthgrades analyzed 2.4 million online reviews to create their 2020 Patient Sentiment Report. This report reinforces something that most people in healthcare already know, which is that online reviews can either make or break a healthcare practice. It also discovered that 75 percent of healthcare reviews mention quality of care and that “a patient’s opinion of a doctor can be dramatically influenced by the overall experience of the visit and interactions with office staff.” This means that, in order to encourage patients to leave positive reviews, there are additional things your practice needs to do beyond simply providing quality care (though that is still important, too).
According to a survey by BrightLocal, 93 percent of consumers used the internet to find a local business in the last year. Of those consumers, 87 percent read online reviews for local businesses in 2020 (a significant rise from 81 percent in 2019). Of the top five industries that users are most likely to read online reviews for, Healthcare/Medical is number three. Also, less than half (48 percent) of consumers would consider using a business that has fewer than four stars. Taking all of the above into account, maintaining a strong presence on review sites such as Yelp and Healthgrades is more important than ever.
In this blog, we will look at a number of strategies your practice can implement in order to encourage patients to leave positive online reviews and by doing so maintain the strongest possible online reputation.
Get Providers & Staff Involved
You need to make sure that everyone in your practice is aware of the high value that today’s consumers place in online reviews, as well as the serious impacts that even a few negative reviews can have on your business. It is both easy and dangerous to assume that all providers and staff already know this. To ensure everyone is one the same page, implement online review training to confirm that both providers and staff understand that encouraging patient reviews should be a standard everyday practice.
Providers can do this by telling patients that they would appreciate feedback (in the form of online reviews) at the end of visits. You can also advise front desk staff to do the same during the checkout process.
Add Review Links to Your Website & Patient Emails
Make sure that visitors to your website, as well as anyone who receives your emails, can easily find their way to various online review pages for your practice. The simplest way to do this is to provide links to those pages in all digital patient-facing materials, such as your website and emails.
Use QR Codes on Marketing Materials
This is an especially good method if you have the kind of practice that hands or mails out cards to patients for holidays and such. You have probably seen QR codes before, even if you don’t know what they are called. QR codes are square-shaped symbols you can scan with your smartphone to open an app or website page. You can create your own QR codes that lead to online review sites by using a free QR Code Generator. With QR codes, you make it possible for your patients to navigate to your review pages easily and conveniently with a simple scan of their smartphones.
Work on Your “People Skills”
Bedside manner and communication (or lack thereof) can highly impact a practice’s and/or provider’s online reviews. In fact, the previously mentioned 2020 Patient Sentiment Report found that 59 percent of all reviews/comments mention “bedside manner” and “communication.” Bedside manner is defined as the patient’s comfort with a doctor and his/her personality as well as how the doctor makes the patient feel. Communication deals with whether a patient feels a provider listens to his/her questions and provides clear information. If your patients feel they are not being listened to, they are more likely to leave negative reviews.
Respond to Reviews!
According to the same BrightLocal survey cited earlier, 20 percent of consumers expect to receive a response to their online reviews within one day. Ignoring reviews can make patients feel as if their opinion does not matter or that your practice does not care. Whether they are positive or negative, you (or an appropriately assigned individual) need to respond to your practice’s online reviews. Just make sure that whoever is crafting the responses to these reviews is well versed in HIPAA and knows how to avoid violations. We have done past blog articles on handling online reviews (found here and here), so check those out if you would like a refresher.
Encouraging patients to leave positive reviews is crucial to any practice’s success in a world where the vast majority of consumers make their buying decisions based on them. By following the simple methods discussed in this blog, your practice can build and maintain a strong online reputation that will improve patient acquisition and retention.
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