Increasingly, a consumer who buys a poorly made kitchen gadget will leave a negative review on the shopping website to help other consumers avoid making the same mistake. That same enthusiasm to share one’s experiences, positive or negative, applies to healthcare. Consumers are moved to broadcast how they feel when they’ve had a great — or poor — medical experience.
Clearly reviews are increasingly important in healthcare, but what can you do about such a self-motivated activity? How do you manage the content you can’t control? Good or bad, there are strategies that can help you with reputation management.
How do good reviews help?
Reviews are often the first thing a patient sees or knows about a physician and associated healthcare network, so online reviews can contribute to a positive reputation. A good online review history can bring consumers to your healthcare organization, increase referrals, and can even bring out-of-network patients in.
Search engines have begun prioritizing user-generated content such as reviews, so they may be the first thing that comes up when someone searches for a physician or healthcare organization by name. These reviews can even appear when a consumer is searching more generically, like for a “cardiology clinic near me” or “pediatric services in Atlanta.”
While the physicians in your healthcare organization might focus primarily on the quality of care, you must also acknowledge that patients are looking for the best healthcare experience overall. All steps from intake to follow-up care are fodder for basing a review on. Reputation management begins with being proactive about the information available about your organization. When you have happy patients, you can send follow-up emails soliciting a review. Encourage sharing positive experiences on social media and third-party review sites through marketing outreach efforts. Sometimes even a simple follow-up email will do.
What about negative reviews?
Though you might prefer to deal with the challenge of soliciting positive reviews, the reality is that negative reviews happen. You may be tempted to ignore them, but consumers are looking for a response. Not all review sites allow a physician or organization response but posting a well-thought-out reply when possible can help acknowledge a complaint or concern and show that you take feedback seriously. When crafting a response your organization team members should:
- Be gracious
- Thank the patient for their comment
- Consider the patient’s complaint or concern
- Address any changes that can or will result
- Respond privately, if warranted, to correct the situation and discuss further
- Above all else, safeguard protected health information (PHI)
A gracious response can go a long way toward making a negative review less weighty.
What do patients focus on in reviews?
Quality care and accuracy of diagnosis are high on patients’ lists of healthcare review metrics, followed closely by listening and explaining skills. Don’t forget that the facility’s environment, staff, and overall experience will also often be noted in online reviews. In fact, everything that happens in your healthcare organization from the first phone call for an appointment through the waiting time, exam, and interactions with staff, diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up care is up for review.
If your organization does happen to receive negative feedback, you can look at this as an opportunity to grow in any of these areas as necessary.
Of course, you want your overall healthcare organization’s reputation to be good, but reputation is important for individual physicians as well. In fact, physician reviews play a significant role in a patient’s decision to choose a doctor at your organization. Up to 77 percent of patients use an online review as a first step to finding a new doctor.
Managing your reputation
Since having a large volume of five-star reviews is an excellent way to ensure a good online reputation, ask your current patients if they would review you. Some ways to accomplish this are to provide a tablet for patients to use upon check out or direct them from your website to your favorite star rating sites.
If you still need help managing this important task, experienced services teams and technology solutions can help. They can keep track of your organization’s reviews, alert you when a response is required, provide best practices for responding, help solicit reviews, and more. Focusing on your reputation management will serve to build trust, credibility, and a positive online presence.