The last time we reported to you the percentage of patients that were using on-line reviews to find their healthcare provider the number was 82 percent. That was in 2018. The percentage is now a whopping 94 percent, based on 2019 data, according to the most recent study released by Software Advice.
You read that correctly, just last year 94 percent of patients used online reviews to evaluate physicians and search for health care providers. In 2013 that percentage was just 25 percent. On-line physician reviews matter more than ever.
Just how important are on-line reviews? The answer can’t be expressed more clearly — an amazing 48% of respondents indicated they would go out-of-network to see a provider with favorable on-line reviews.
Internet review sites such as Google, Yelp, Vitals, and HealthGrades and others have a direct impact on revenue and the ability to attract new patients. If you feel like Google is taking over, you’d be correct. According to the same Software Advice study, of the most used review sites Google makes up 37%, followed closely by HeathGrades at 26%, RateMDs at 13%, Yelp at 12% and all others at 12%.
The good news is online rating sites can provide a valid source of patient referrals.
The bottom-line: Positive on-line reviews will attract new patients and support revenue growth, while negative reviews will dissuade new patients and lessen revenue growth.
Effectively Manage Online Reviews: 3 Major Considerations for You and Your Team
1. Engage the Patient
Central to an effective on-line presence is the willingness of the practice to embrace a culture that engages in consistent, timely communication with patients via on-line websites.
Adopt an engagement strategy where the key focus is to deliver professional, customized replies to all online comments and reviews. Demonstrating to your patients — and prospective new patients — that your practice is willing to engage patients on-line encourages trust and credibility.
Thank patients for every positive review, and respond to negative reviews in a professional, empathetic, and factual manner.
2. Be Proactive
Online reviews often represent the first exposure of your practice to a prospective new patient. Try this; type your practice’s name in a search engine and review the results.
If you use Google to do your search, more than likely you’ll see the Google rating and review summary listed right there, on the right-hand side of the page, regardless of the search engine results.
Is the first page of the search results covered with positive reviews? If so, great! If not, there are solutions that will help (more about that in just a minute).
Responding to negative reviews: Being proactive and empathetic is important.
Regardless of how bad a negative comment may be — always respond. Failure to respond, at best, may be interpreted as being indifferent, and at worse, misinterpreted as “guilty” of the disgruntled patient’s allegation.
3. Use on-line Reviews as a Catalyst for Positive Change
Online reviews offer physicians important information regarding the patient’s perception of quality of care and level of service. Reviewing every patient review will sometimes uncover potential areas for service improvement, particularly when service failure trends are apparent.
If your practice already utilizes M3-Advocate, when you login to M3 just click the link that is labeled, M3-Advocate. There you will find three (3) TABs that provide statistics, social media links, and an email report that recaps patients that have recently received social media invites.
If your practice does not currently deploy M3-Advocate, but does use M3-Patient Experience®, adding M3-Advocate to your organization’s M3 system is pretty straight forward. If you’re interested, just have your organization’s leadership contact MedicalGPS for more information. Please know that M3-Advocate is a bolt-on product, which means pricing for M3-Advocate is in addition to M3-Patient Experience subscription fees. Discounts do apply.
If your practice does not use M3-Patient Experience, we’d love to talk with you about the opportunities to help your practice improve the patient experience AND improve social media ratings and scores.
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Jerry L. Stone