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Online reviews and public feedback from other patients are an important research tool for healthcare consumers.  

According to Software Advice, 77 percent of patients read online reviews as the first step to finding a new doctor or physician. What’s more, from 2013 to 2014, the amount of patients using online reviews increased 68 percent.

Indeed, more patients than ever are turning to the many sources of information online (reviews being one of the most important) in order to research and find healthcare providers. When searching for a specialist, for example, a patient might look at several doctor review sites, including Google, Healthgrades, Wellness.com, and ZocDoc.

Patients are hoping to learn more about what other patients experienced with their healthcare providers. Was the patient experience positive? Was the experience negative?

According to MobiHealthNews, 54 percent of Millennials ages 18 to 24 search online for information about a provider before actually seeing a doctor.

“Younger generations are hard-wired to research online – they don’t know any other way – and they rely on this data for everything, whether they’re looking up NFL stats while drafting their fantasy football teams or buying a car,” writes Trace Devanny, former president of Nuance Healthcare Division.

He goes on to write that as patients pay for more of their own healthcare, they will use online reviews as a research tool to educate themselves on patient experiences with doctors, specialists, and other healthcare providers.

In addition, in an education session at the AMA Annual Meeting in June of 2017, Dr. Deanna Attai stressed the importance of online reviews and social media for physicians.

“In this day and age, your reputation is whatever Google says it is,” Dr. Attai said at the session. She said there are three important elements physicians should keep in mind when updating online review profiles:

  • You must always submit the right information about your practice
  • You won’t always be able to control what patients write in online reviews and social media comments
  • You won’t be able to dictate what your patients say, regardless of what you have published in your online profiles and business listings

How Online Reviews Complement HCAHPS

Online reviews and publicly posted patient feedback also serve to complement patient perspectives outlined in HCAHPS survey responses.

What is HCAHPS? Short for the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems, this industry-standard patient system is a formal and standardized measurement of patient satisfaction and patient experience, as well as a key metric in the value-based purchasing program of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

According to Medicare.gov, the HCAHPS survey is the first national and standardized reported survey of patient perspective on hospital care, with more than 4,000 hospitals listed as having utilized the survey.

By listening to patient feedback through online review management as well as HCAHPS survey distribution, healthcare providers and hospitals can more effectively understand, measure, manage, and improve the kind of patient experiences they are delivering. 

Why All of This Matters

According to newly released local search report by ReviewTrackers, 53 percent of consumers typically visit a business within 48 hours of searching online. 

Healthcare providers should stay on top of their reputation online as the amount of patients who research only continues to increase. 

Because of the increasing amount of patients searching for physicians online, it’s important have a method in place for managing your online reputation and analyzing patient feedback. You want to have a positive online brand reputation that earns the trust of searchers and makes patients and healthcare consumers feel confident about booking an appointment with you. 

Megan Wenzl

Megan is the Associate Editor for ReviewTrackers. She's a writer who is committed to finding useful information to help your business succeed. Megan holds an M.A. in journalism from Columbia College Chicago.

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