The internet has changed healthcare. From the website to electronic health records, the healthcare industry is still at the beginning of a continued shift to make the patient experience simpler, swifter, and safer. Through all of the technology and regulations, Yelp has disrupted healthcare more than any other website. Yelp has made Reputation Management essential to any competent strategic marketing plan. Through the wisdom of crowds, a good reputation online can easily be the difference between your practice’s success or failure.
Has your Yelp medical practice reviews score influenced your approach to engage patients and improve your patient satisfaction? In a recent Binary Fountain survey, they found that “95 percent of respondents regard online ratings and reviews as ‘somewhat’ to ‘very’ reliable.” Without a conscious approach to managing your reviews, one negative review on Yelp can undo the years of dedication and service you have put into your healthcare profession regardless of how stellar your reputation is throughout the industry.
As your local market becomes increasingly competitive you can no longer count on word of mouth to keep new patients coming in to your practice. The same Binary Fountain survey indicated that “75 percent of Americans say online ratings and review sites have influenced their decision when choosing a physician.” And with almost 8 out of every 10 potential patients saying they are influenced by reviews, you need an online reputation management strategy that will maintain the integrity of your unique skills and expertise.
Reputation management for medical practices is the insurance policy doctors need to keep the business aspect of their practice at its best. Because one bad review can discredit you as a healthcare provider, even if you are not at fault. Here’s why.
The Importance of Managing Your Reputation
To understand the importance of creating a reputation management strategy for your medical practice it is important to first understand how healthcare reviews and patient satisfaction scores work. There are several online review sites where patients can weigh-in about your practice and their patient experience. Websites such as Yelp, Google, and Facebook allow visitors to leave a 1-5-star review about the quality of a company’s products and services and write a description that explains the reason for this rating.
The potential hazard of patient review sites comes when patients go to these sites, unprompted, to offer their feedback. This becomes a gamble for healthcare providers because patients are leaving a review for one of two reasons; they either had a good experience or they had a bad experience. More often than not the unprompted reviews are negative. While you may have the utmost confidence in the care you provided your patient, there are many other reasons they may report a negative experience.
From the first phone call or online interaction with your office to the final departure from your building, the patient experience covers that and everything in between. When a patient leaves you a review, the overall impression of your practice can really have nothing to do with the quality of care you provided. Parts of the patient experience that may influence how a patient feels about your practice are:
- The validity of your practice information online.
- The ease of making an appointment.
- The friendliness of your staff on the first phone call or correspondence.
- Parking availability or lack thereof.
- The environment within your practice and how it made the patient feel.
- The cleanliness of your office (you don’t want patients taking pictures of overflowing trash cans).
- The helpfulness of your staff (are they trained?).
- Wait times.
- Privacy practices.
- The ease of dealing with the billing department and handling insurance issues.
A patient review might have nothing to do with you personally as a healthcare provider and everything to do with how your front desk receptionist made them feel. To further complicate this, your overall online rating is determined by an average of the reported reviews. So, if you are not proactively managing new five star reviews and one patient goes online and leaves a negative review, your practice rating will go down.
A Software Advice Survey showed that “91 percent of patients reported to be ‘moderately likely’ to choose one similarly qualified doctor over another based on positive reviews.” The data overwhelmingly shows that your online reputation is important to your practice.
What Can I Do to Manage My Reputation?
As mentioned earlier, the gamble of patient reviews comes when patients log onto review sites on their own. When they aren’t prompted to go on an online review site, patients are generally there because they have something to say. Even if you have trust in your staff and your abilities as a healthcare provider, things happen and different patients perceive things differently.
Net One Click’s Patient Promoter™ system was developed from the frustration medical practices were experiencing with the online review process. Upset patients would leave the office and head to the internet (Yelp, Facebook, and Google) to vent about their less than satisfactory experience. The opportunity to post negative feedback about the practice and its providers created a huge problem for practice management. Potential patients would find these scathing reviews during their search for providers and immediately develop a negative opinion of the practice and/or provider based on a few bad reviews.
The Patient Promoter system is a proactive way to direct patient feedback to benefit your practice. This proven method filters patients so only the most satisfied patients are delivering their opinion to your online review websites. In addition to increasing the number of 5-star reviews on your practice’s Yelp, Facebook, and Google profiles, you can gather intelligence about the health of your practice and act to improve the way you do business.
Take a look at the process:
The benefit to our proprietary system is that you are targeting all of your patients, rather than only the few who have had an experience they are urged to share. You create a platform for patients to provide you insights about their experience. These patients may not have done so if not prompted. Patients who value your services will want to offer their support. Patients who aren’t fully satisfied can provide feedback on what went wrong-offering an opportunity for your practice to improve and even showing the patient that you care about how they feel.
As more and more patients leave reviews, you create a buffer that will protect your online reputation if someone leaves your practice upset and runs online to deliver negative feedback about their experience. A negative review against one-hundred positive reviews certainly doesn’t create as big of an impact as a negative review against one or two positive reviews.
To further benefit your practice, Patient Promoter collects and sorts your patient reviews. This is a win-win for both your practice and your patients because you will be able to understand what lead your patient to leave a negative review. Negative insight, although upsetting, can be a great asset to your practice. It helps you improve your business and enhance the patient experience for the next person.
Stop ignoring your Yelp reviews and start taking action to improve your practice and deliver a patient experience worthy of 5 stars.