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Healthcare Marketing 101: 5 Ways to Get Patients to Give You Positive Online Reviews

Why Ask Patients for Reviews?

One of the most effective healthcare marketing strategies today is asking patients for reviews of their providers.

By getting patients to write reviews, providers can:

Achieve competitive differentiation: According to Vitals, approximately 85 percent of consumers are now at least “moderately likely” to choose a doctor over another based on high ratings and positive reviews. Vitals also found that 51 percent of people check reviews to assess their physicians and healthcare providers. 47 percent of those who look up physicians online feel differently about the physician after viewing their profiles and reviews.

Inspire confidence and establish trust among potential consumers: Reviews are a powerful tool for driving patient acquisition. 66.3 percent of healthcare consumers view patient reviews as influential when searching for a new primary care physician.

Measure (and improve) the patient experience. According to research, 81 percent of patients are not satisfied with their healthcare experience. Another study, meanwhile, found that online reviews and ratings closely match patient experience in hospitals, and therefore provide a pretty accurate online prediction of patients’ offline experience.

Providers with patients that write reviews can use these reviews to understand what they’re doing right, or where there’s room for improvement.

How to Get Patients to Write Reviews

If you can count your online patient reviews with one hand, or if you don’t feel like your provider profiles on sites like Google, Yelp, Facebook, Healthgrades, RateMDs, Vitals, and other healthcare review sites aren’t compelling enough, you’re in luck.

Here’s a list of tips and tricks that you can follow to get your patients to write reviews.

First: ensure compliance.

You have to know which review sites allow you to request reviews and encourage feedback from patients.

Some sites — Yelp, for example — frown upon healthcare providers asking their patients for reviews. Other sites — like Google — are the opposite, even providing free tools for providers to reach out proactively for online reviews.

As you try to get patients to write reviews of your practice, ensure that your efforts are going to be in compliance with each individual review site’s guidelines. You want to be rewarded, not penalized, for asking patients for reviews.

Second: time your requests thoughtfully.

Asking patients for reviews? Do so in a thoughtful and meaningful way.

For example, a hospital doesn’t want to ask people for reviews while they are undergoing a difficult treatment, and a cosmetic surgery clinic doesn’t want to ask people to review them while they are still recovering from surgery. Pick a sensible time to contact patients, and only try to get patient reviews when the timing is appropriate.

Use a printable review request handout.

Sometimes, all patients need is a reminder for them to leave you a review. A handout is perfect: hand it over to the patient right after their appointment and explain that you’d love to hear their feedback.

The handout can be in the form of a card, a piece of paper attached to the receipt, a sticker, or even a few lines of text printed on something you give away to your patients after their visit.

Remember: patients depend on reviews, and they won’t hesitate to write a great review if they were happy with their experience. Review request handouts are an effective tool to help you capitalize on this opportunity.

(Looking to get more Google reviews? Try this free printable review request handout, which comes with easy instructions for your patients on how to leave reviews of your practice on Google.)

Run an email campaign.

Do you collect patient email addresses when they book an appointment or visit your location?

If so, then you’ll quickly realize that email is one of the most effective patient review tools today.

Here at ReviewTrackers, we even developed a powerful review generation tool for healthcare organizations looking to streamline review requests via email (and SMS).

You can also integrate your review requests into your monthly patient newsletters. When writing your message to patients, be sure to add a link to your profiles on specific review sites so that it takes patients only a few clicks to share their experience.

Distribute patient feedback surveys.

Patient feedback surveys are one of the best ways to gauge patient satisfaction levels and understand your healthcare group’s online reputation. Healthcare providers and organizations are already aware of the HCAHPS survey, but creating a custom patient feedback survey has its own benefits.

For example, you can add a component to your surveys in which patients are encouraged to submit reviews on specific healthcare review sites where you’re listed.

Be active in responding to reviews.

It’s not easy to get your patients to write reviews on sites that frown upon review requests.

But a recent study by Harvard Business Review could offer some insight: according to the researchers, businesses begin to get 12 percent more reviews when they start responding to existing ones. (Responsiveness also leads to an increase in overall ratings by 0.12 stars.)

Read this post for examples of how to respond to reviews in the healthcare industry.

Empower your employees.

Training your employees to remember to ask patients for reviews towards the end of their visit can work wonders.

Remember to keep the pitch simple: “We’re so glad you came in today. Would you mind reviewing your experience on Google/ Facebook/ RateMDs / Vitals? Your feedback helps us know how we did today, and how we can deliver an even better experience for you next time.”

Or: “If you enjoyed your visit today… we love getting reviews on Vitals/ Healthgrades.” Patients will be more likely to think about writing a review if this is one of the few things you train your employees to say in post-transactional situations.

If you’re hoping to encourage your team to request reviews from patients, consider “incentivizing” their efforts. You may incentivize based on rating scores, the number of review requests sent, the number of reviews generated, or a combination of all three.

Offering incentives is a great way to build trust and reward employees’ positive behavior. It also helps your business achieve higher adoption rates of the reviews software or technology in which you may have invested.

Work review requests into your system.

Wouldn’t it be nice to automatically ask for reviews from your latest or most recent patients? Check with your patient management system provider or appointment booking platform if there is a way to integrate review requests with whatever software you’re using.

Deliver a 5-star patient experience.

Provide a brand of personalized service that prioritizes patient experience above all. After 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 — on the other end of the spectrum — when they’ve been angered by what they have perceived as a shortcoming in the level of care received from their provider.

Interestingly, patient reviews seldom address the medical expertise or diagnostic ability of the provider; instead, the reviews usually talk about other aspects of the patient experience: waiting times, responsiveness, bedside manner, staff attitude.

  • In an analysis of over 5,000 patient reviews on Vitals, data researchers found that “time,” “staff,” and “office” are the three most common words found in reviews. “Diagnosis” ranked at no. 47, which goes to show that patients are looking beyond qualifications and professional expertise; bedside manner and service matter, too.
  • Patients also complain online 4 times as often about a medical practice’s customer service – such as receptionists’ cordiality and doctors’ bedside manners – than about a doctor’s ability to heal, according to Vanguard Communications.

Ultimately, what matters most to patients is your ability (and the ability of your staff) to connect with them at a personal level, and to demonstrate genuine compassion and interest in their health situation and well-being.

 

Migs Bassig

Migs is the Content Manager for ReviewTrackers. He's a creative writer who has helped numerous companies communicate more effectively online, and he loves sharing his local marketing knowledge to help brands and business succeed.

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