If you are a healthcare provider or healthcare marketing professional, then you are most likely aware of the influence online reviews have on potential patients when it comes to selecting a practitioner or medical facility.
After all, we exist in a highly competitive environment where patients have many choices and tools to help them identify, and even select, providers that meet their strict criteria.
For potential patients, this has made it easier for them to understand some of the most important factors when choose a healthcare provider: competence and trust.
Not even the best marketing and advertising campaign can replace the value of a good referral from a current or prior patient.
Because the bulk of healthcare marketing leads can originate from review sites or will be validated via review sites, ensuring your practice has plenty of patient feedback and reviews is essential to the success and financial sustainability of any practice or hospital.
As we evolve into a highly mobile culture, many people can no longer rely on their social circles or word of mouth to help them identify a provider when they find themselves in a new city. Mobility has also resulted in frequent changes of family practitioners as families are uprooted from city to city due to job changes and career moves. Reviews are now taking the place of direct social networks by giving consumers the confidence and tools to move forward in selecting a doctor.
With over 90 percent of purchasing and business-relationship decisions being influenced by online reviews, setting the stage for review generation and reputation management strategy can be a game-changer for healthcare organizations of any size.
Less than 5 percent of patients have reported completing an online review for their practitioner or health facility, so capturing every possible review is essential to grow your online presence and lead-generation opportunities.
Let’s review a few tried and true implementations that will help increase the level of patient engagement with popular review sites.
Five Ways to Get More Healthcare Reviews
1. Create Approachable Online Profiles
Get the online reviews ball rolling by taking the necessary steps to ensure every online review profile that matters is polished and up to date.
Provide shoppers with a full picture of your professional credentials and facilities to help them decide if you are a good fit for their medical needs. Having a complete profile lends credibility to your practice and improves shopper engagement.
Paying attention to the finer details, such as photos and accurate hours of operation as well as accepted insurance providers, can tip the scales in your favor and bring more patients in the door. This improves the chances of getting additional reviews on the site that introduced the patient to your practice.
2. Enhance Review-Site Recall via Offline Marketing
Don’t miss out on the opportunity for enhanced recall via offline marketing materials. Be it brochures or local magazine half- or full-color pages, take the opportunity to brag about your reviews on popular sites. Quote specific patient reviews or include your score, awards, or certificates of excellence granted to your practice by the review site.
As potential patients are repeatedly exposed to information regarding your online reputation, they will become more likely to want to share their opinion to further validate, enhance and, in some unfortunate instances, refute prior reviews. By using your current rating scores and reviews, you will leverage your online reputation as a means of reinforcing your personal brand.
3. Provide Personal Service That Prioritizes Patients Above All
Average services seldom result in reviews. Patients are most likely to review a physician or medical facility when they’ve received superior personal care, or when they’ve been angered by what they have perceived as a shortcoming in the level of care received from their practitioner.
Interestingly, assessments conveyed on online review sites such as Vitals, Yelp, or Healthgrades seldom address the medical expertise, diagnostic ability, or technologies supporting a facility.
Instead, most reviews, both good and bad, are associated with the emotional aspects of medical care such as responsiveness, bedside manner, compassion, and willingness to listen. Even if you are a top medical authority in your field, when it comes to managing and growing your online reputation, what matters most to patients is your ability (and the ability of your staff) to connect at a personal level and demonstrate compassion and interest in the person, first and foremost.
4. Respond to Current Reviews
It is a well-known fact that engagement triggers additional conversations. If a medical practice wants to create an online environment that invites potential new patients to join in the conversation, then there is no better move than having profiles that show a commitment to responding to the concerns communicated by current patients via their reviews.
A response that seeks to resolve issues or conveys gratitude for a kind word adds to the credibility and humanity of a medical practice. Learn what makes a business-conducive review response, and begin managing key online profiles by consistently responding to reviews and finding ways to improve the way you do business based on the feedback provided by patients. Generally, new patients that selected a practice based on their level of online interactivity will be eager to partake in the conversation and provide their own insights regarding the services they received from their new doctor, clinic, or hospital.
5. Provide Follow-up Calls and E-mails
Many studies have demonstrated significant increase in patient satisfaction by the addition of a follow-up call or E-mail to check on the health of the patient, provide him or her with a chance to ask questions, and ensure they are satisfied with the services received. Both phone-based follow-up calls and emails may include a gentle encouragement asking patients to voice their opinion via a review on the popular review site of their choice. Physicians might want to include a list of popular sites where they are featured, but we highly suggest that no specific request for a review is made, nor links provided directly to the review site.
In short, the patient should feel compelled to write a review, not cornered into writing one.
Managing the reputation of your medical facility can significantly increase your patient volume. Begin now by taking a look at the best tools to centralize your review management and get the bigger picture of what your patients truly want.
Image via HealthIT.gov