Online dentist reviews play an increasingly significant role in determining where dental patients decide to go.
In fact, according to a new study by 1-800-Dentist.com, 70 percent of respondents said that online dentist reviews are just as important as a dentist’s professional credentials. The number marks a huge jump from the 53 percent recorded in 2010 – further demonstrating that online reviews from aggregators like Yelp, Google, YP.com, and Dr. Oogle do, in fact, shape consumer behavior, even in as specialized an area as dentistry.
“It makes sense that growing numbers of people are being influenced by what other patients say about practices online,” wrote Dentistry IQ Managing Editor Kevin Henry in a story about the 1-800-Dentist.com study. “The survey found that the number one difficulty people have choosing a dentist is that ‘It’s hard to know the quality of the dentist’s work.’ Another major concern is that ‘It’s hard to know if a dentist is trustworthy.’ No wonder nearly half of all patients are now actively consulting online review sites like Yelp when searching for a dentist. Reviews from other patients lend credibility in the online marketplace.”
Henry recommended that monitoring dentist reviews should be a top priority for every dentist (and other professionals practicing medicine).
“The reality is that online reputation management is one of the top three areas where dental offices concede that too little time is being spent,” he said. “To remedy this, it should be the job of someone in the practice to regularly visit Google, Yelp, and the other sites at least daily, and see if anything new has been posted about your practice.” (And if there isn’t anyone who’ll do that job, well – that’s where a medical review monitoring tool like ReviewTrackers comes in.)
Entitled “What Dental Patients Want,” the study is based on the responses of more than 500 individuals who were asked about their views and attitudes towards dentists and dentistry. Apart from reading online reviews, dental patients are also keen to have clear, honest conversations with dentists about cost. Patients also want more convenience, especially as far as making appointments is concerned. (Only 22 percent of dental practices appoint new patients within 48 hours of their first call.)