Attention, doctors and medical professionals: it’s time to start tracking your business reputation and managing your online reviews.
According to a recent study, approximately 25 percent of patients – or 1 out of 4 – check online reviews to help them find the right doctor, The Wall Street Journal reported. The study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association by researchers from the University of Michigan.
If at first this may seem like an underwhelming percentage (at least compared to the 33 percent suggested in another study by the American Osteopathic Association), the trend still points toward an increase in the number of consumers checking review sites like Yelp, Healthgrades, RateMDs, and Vitals before making an appointment.
The University of Michigan researchers also found that 33 percent of patients make a decision to see or not see a particular doctor based on the online doctor reviews that they read.
But it’s not just consumers going online to read these user-generated opinions: doctors, too, are hoping to measure patient satisfaction levels by reading their patients’ reviews, taking steps to protect their reputation, and making adjustments – like changing their bedside manner – based on what has been said.
“Many doctors remain wary of online reviews, concerned that negative comments can damage their reputation,” wrote Sumathi Reddy for the Wall Street Journal. “Being a good doctor can sometimes mean giving patients hard advice. And some doctors fear comments from disgruntled patients or ex-employees could drive other patients away.”
Other studies that demonstrate patients’ reliance on online review sites include this patient satisfaction survey by Digital Assent, wherein 72 percent of patients said that negative reviews would likely prevent them from choosing a particular doctor. Another study – this time by doctor ratings site Vitals – showed that 47 percent of patients who had looked up a physician online felt differently about that doctor after viewing their profile, reviews, and ratings.