Digital Marketing

Why Patient Reviews Are So Important for Your Medical Practice and How To Get Started

By Amber Turner On Oct 05, 2020 . 0 Comments

How many restaurants have you been to with a 3-star review rating or lower? Or a restaurant with only a handful of reviews? Probably not many.

So what do you think your potential patients are thinking when they see your practice’s review rating?

Patient reviews have come a long way from simple word-of-mouth recommendations to published online assessments dissecting you and your practice.

Thanks to the massive use of smartphones, tablets and laptops, patients are able to easily chime in with their thoughts about doctors, their impression of the practice’s entire staff, and their overall experience.

When choosing a new healthcare provider, people have plenty of options, so many browse the internet to find the practice with the best reviews and go to someone they trust.

72% of potential patients won’t take action until they read reviews.

They must be able to see what other patients are saying about you in order to trust you and come to you for treatment.

With 93% of consumers saying online reviews impact their purchasing decisions and the minimum rating they’ll engage with is 3.3 stars, online reviews are critical in gaining visibility.

With this information, you should be convinced that online reviews are important for your medical practice.

So without further ado, let’s jump into this resource we created to share some methods that should help you increase positive reviews of your own practice, improve your credibility and get more patients through your door.

Responding to Positive and Negative Feedback

What’s important is engaging your patients and letting them know you care and are paying attention to what they have to say about your practice and staff.

Regardless of where the review is—be it Google, Yelp, Healthgrades, Facebook, RateMDs, or Vitals—you can capitalize on a good review, and minimize the damage of a bad review. 

Responding to a positive review is an easy way to engage with happy customers that benefits both your brand identity and your one-on-one relationship with that patient.

Negative reviews can be crippling for medical practice—especially if the business has few reviews to begin with. 

It takes roughly 40 positive customer experiences to undo the damage of a single negative review.

More than four negative reviews about a company or product may decrease sales by 70%.

That proves you can’t just ignore a bad review until it goes away.  In fact, ignoring an unpleasant review can make things worse.

Follow a few important rules:

  • Thank the patient for taking the time to review you and let them know you value their feedback.
  • Keep your response short and professional. No one wants to read a 2-3 paragraph response. 
  • Don’t discuss any personal information about the patient or the service you provided them. This puts you in violation of the HIPAA Privacy Rule, which prohibits you from divulging anything about the patient’s health information.
  • Don’t respond at all to spam comments (people who are not even patients or completely making things up). These comments likely violate the rules of the review site and you should be able to have them removed by contacting the site’s admin.
  • Never respond in an argumentative manner.
  • Don’t respond at length or multiple times to negative reviews, as this draws more attention to the negative comment.

Remember, online reviews and review sites are public, so the positive conversations that happen can do wonders for marketing your practice and getting more patients through your doors!

Take this also as an opportunity to focus on any emerging patterns from negative comments, and to target those areas for improvement. You can control your patient’s experience. That means you have some control in the way your patients review you and your practice.

Check Out Your Healthgrades, Vitals, and RateMDs

These sites are made specifically for an audience that wants to get as much information as possible before making a vital medical decision.

The reputation of your practice or physician can be greatly impacted by the likes of Healthgrades, Vitals, and RateMDs. When a patient searches Google for your practice, these sites will likely show up on the first page.

With these healthcare-focused site listings, many organizations can get better feedback from current patients while also providing enough information to attract new patients.

It is vital to claim and properly manage your profiles on these sites to optimize your reputation management.

Setting up your profile on these sites is easy, but managing it on a regular basis can be tedious.

Here’s some tips to make the process easier:

  • Add as much relevant information as possible. Each site shows an overwhelming amount of information. It’s important to confirm that information is correct for your new and existing patients.
  • Monitor patient reviews frequently. Doing so allows you to stay on top of any issues that appear and find new ways to improve the patient experience.
  • Respond to reviews in a timely manner. You should take time to respond to patient feedback whether it’s full of praise or criticism. Be quick when responding, especially if the review is negative, to show your patients you care about their experience and appreciate their feedback.

Gain More Visibility Through Search Engines

We all know how crucial it is to be discovered through search engines, especially Google.

While there are a lot of factors involved in search rankings, online customer reviews can be a strong signal to search engines that communicates trustworthiness and credibility.

In the eyes of Google or any other search engine, adding reviews to your website is comparable to adding fresh content to your site. 

Every time a customer leaves you a review, Google is provided with fresh content to crawl.

Crawling is the discovery process in which search engines send out a team of robots (known as crawlers or spiders) to find new and updated content.

Whether the review is good or bad, it’s likely to contain keywords relevant to your business, product, services, or even location. 

The more content that it has available to read, the more it will know about your business.

Google My Business reviews that included the searched-for keyword were the second-most influential factor when examining a local business’ performance in the box of local search and map results that appears at the top of relevant searches in Google.

You can see this in action in the screenshot above. When I searched for “orthopedic doctor”, one of the factors Google used to determine which businesses to display was reviews. 

Specifically, notice the fragments of reviews at the bottom of each business’ space – the terms that were searched are bolded, indicating Google’s determination of relevance.

That means Google reviews are high-profile and contribute to local search engine results page rankings.

Ultimately, the more patient reviews you have, the higher you will rank in Google for your medical practice. Higher you rank, the more chances you have at attracting new patients.

This makes them a highly valuable area to focus your reputation efforts on.

 

Displaying Patient Reviews on Social Media

Collecting star ratings and comments is great, but it’s just a start. Use the feedback to create social media posts that engage your audience and build trust in your medical practice.

With such a huge captive audience, it would be a missed opportunity if you failed to share your customer feedback on social media.

Here are three tips for promoting your practice’s patient feedback on social media:

  • Keep the message short but sincere. You do not have to quote an entire patient review in a social media post. It’s much better to pick one part and use it as an attention-grabbing headline.
  • Use visuals like images, photos, and videos. Get creative and use visuals to promote customer reviews
  • Thank customers for their reviews. Encourage more customers to share the feedback of your client’s product or service. The best way is to thank customers for taking the time to share their feedback.

Encourage Patients to Leave Reviews

Many patients are willing to review your practice, especially if they’ve had a positive experience. The same goes for negative experiences as well.

Notice how the urgent cares are ranked in the screenshot above. 

The top search result is a practice with a Google rating of 4.6 with 268 reviews. The urgent care that got the 2nd slot has a rating of 3.6 with 517 reviews and 3rd placement has a rating of 3.8 with 31 reviews.

Practices with a higher review rating will always lead in search result rankings. But did you notice how the 2nd practice with a lower rating than the 3rd got placed higher? 

Google uses an algorithm to average the reviews together to determine an overall star rating.

At the risk of sounding obvious, we’ll make this quick: If someone leaves your practice a bad review, then you’re going to end up with a poor star rating. This will seriously impact a potential patient’s decision to come to your practice for medical treatment.

When asked, 86% of consumers would consider leaving reviews for businesses. 

Physicians can encourage patients to leave reviews on sites like Google or Facebook and improve their online reputations, establish trust, and grow their practices.

Here are a few tips to encourage patients to leave reviews online:

  • Ask patients on their way out of the office.
  • Print on appointment cards
  • Print on take-home instructions
  • Phone calls
  • Send automated emails
  • Add a link on your practice website
  • Ask for reviews on social media

Seven out of ten consumers will leave a review for a business if encouraged. 

Make sure everyone on your staff understands the influence of patient reviews and feel comfortable encouraging patients to share their experience. It’s a team effort in making sure your practice is standing out on top against your competitors.

Koda Has Your Back – Reach Out For Help When You Need It

Over time, this use of this guide should organically lead to more patients, reviews, recommendations, and everything else. However, that’s not enough. 

Fact is, modern medical practices have to compete for patients. You also have to be proactive in your marketing efforts.

Luckily, if your medical practice is doing good work, online review management shouldn’t be TOO taxing on your resources.

However, if you do not have the time to manage or respond to your online reviews, it’s important to hire a reputation management agency to respond to reviews. 

Review/reputation management can also help your medical practice recover from damaging negative reviews and perhaps more importantly, help you to build up hundreds of positive online reviews.

That’s where our team at Koda Digital steps in. 

We have helped many practices stand out and above their competitors with a cohesive business strategy that involves SEO, AdWords, reputation management, and much more.

In only 9 months, we helped an urgent care practice raise their Yelp rating from a 3.5 to a 4.7 and their Google Review rating from a 3.5 to a 4.5.

Also, instead of receiving only 1 review a month, they now get around 25.

With Koda Digital to help grow their business, this client has grown from a single-location to multiple local locations.

Want to see similar growth for your own practice? 

Spend your time focusing on your patients, we’ll handle the rest. Contact Koda Digital today to get a handle on your online reputation management and improve every digital touchpoint of your patient’s journey.

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