Medical Practice Reputation: The #1 Way to Win New Patients

by | Sep 28, 2021 | Articles, Practice Services

“Practice Marketing Essentials Series: Online Reputation for Medical Practices” 

Surprisingly, the most effective form of advertising – a solid online reputation for physicians – cannot be bought. Each genuine online doctor review helps build a positive reputation, and the only thing spent is a bit of your patient’s personal time. 

Positive patient feedback is indeed priceless. Overwhelmingly, consumers trust online reviews from strangers above any advertising they might encounter. Online reviews have now eclipsed the traditional referral as patients increasingly look to larger networks when deciding where to place their trust. 

Further, a good online reputation is a result of delivering exceptional care. The efforts of your entire operation pay off when patients volunteer to post positive online doctor visit reviews. 

Online reputation management for doctors is the leveraging of patient feedback to build your brand and attract new patients. In this blog, we share how medical practice online reputation works and how you can maximize its benefits. 

Survey Results as Proof: 88% of Patients Read Reviews When Choosing a Doctor 

A 2020 report from Doctor.com reveals astounding insight into how patients choose providers. 88% of respondents will follow up with referrals by reading online doctor reviews. Modern healthcare consumers tend to be diligent about researching a provider’s online reputation and want reassurance that they are choosing the best provider for their needs and comfort. 

For example, if an insurance carrier assigns a primary care physician to a patient, this prompts them to look up this doctor online before an initial appointment. This also gives them the opportunity to compare providers within the network. Online doctor reviews will surely sway the patient to either stay with this PCP or request a switch to one who has a better online presence. 

When patients shop for providers, ratings and reviews are the #1 consideration 

88% of prospective patients read online reviews to vet referrals. 

The breakdown of this specific survey figure is as follows: 

Survey question: “If you’ve ever been referred to a healthcare provider, do you go online to read reviews about the preferred provider?” 

  • 30% always read reviews 
  • 30% frequently read reviews 
  • 27% occasionally read reviews 
  • 10% rarely read reviews. 

Other Eye-Opening Survey Insights About Online Reputation Management for Doctors 

When asked, patients will give their opinions, and thankfully Doctor.com extracted plenty of feedback by asking incisive questions about the importance of online reviews. 

How Patients Weigh Reviews 

More than half of patients surveyed have exacting standards when it comes to choosing one provider over another. 

  • 55% want to see 4- or 5-star reviews when considering a provider. 
  • 64.1% chose one provider over another due to a 4-star rating or higher. 
  • Nearly 60% say poor quality of reviews is a deterrent from booking with a provider. 

How do patients assess online reputation? Here are the criteria in order of importance: 

  1. Quality of reviews – content should be helpful, valid, and from credible sources. 
  2. Average star rating of the provider. 
  3. How recent the reviews are. 
  4. Finding reviews on more than one website.  

What Influences Patient Feedback? 

Drilling down even further, we find what factors have the greatest influence on how your patients perceive the care they receive. What medical practice strengths would compel a 4- or 5-star online doctor visit reviews? 

  • Nearly 71% need a good customer service experience. 
  • 61% consider bedside manner to be important. 
  • 60% value ease of appointment booking. 
  • Nearly 58% say good communication is a must. 
Want to drive more patients to your practice? Contact a practice marketing expert. Start today.

All Feedback Improves the Patient Experience 

Since customer service is the number one consideration when posting a review, this feedback lets you see exactly where you stand with patient care quality. Patients who are too timid to share their grievances with your staff may instead share their negative experiences online. This feedback lets you know where you can improve, so that you can work to prevent additional reviews with the same complaint.  

On the other hand, reviews also reveal what you are doing right. Positive feedback is validating and encouraging for your staff. It indicates that you all have delivered such great care that a patient would take the time to praise you publicly. Some patients may go so far as to post about their positive experiences on social media. 

No Need to Wait to Get Good Reviews – Be Proactive 

It is always a treat when a patient leaves a glowing review without being prompted, but just waiting for reviews to come in will stall the progress of building an online reputation. There must be effort put toward accruing positive online doctor visit reviews. 

As mentioned before, patients will give feedback when asked. It is okay to ask for reviews and feedback. We know firsthand that practices leverage EHR (Electronic Health Records) and patient check out to procure reviews. An EHR can be set to automatically send out requests for a review via email or text. Such requests can also be sent manually by the front desk staff at the completion of a visit. 

Not only is it okay to request ratings and reviews from patients, but it is also a proactive and powerful way to help establish your medical practice’s online reputation. 

Where Online Doctor Reviews Dwell 

Every healthcare consumer has their preferred source of ratings and reviews, and 49% say they have tapped online directories or reviews sites. However, the most popular channels are Google reviews, Facebook, and Healthgrades. Other notable publishers of online medical practice reviews are VitalsWebMDMayo ClinicZocdoc, and Yelp. 

The goal is to have reviews published across multiple sites. When requesting reviews, you can direct your patients to the specific site where reviews for your practice are lacking. We recommend focusing on the most visible channels first: Google, Facebook, and Healthgrades. 

Tip: Ensure your medical practice has both claimed and updated your profile on each major directory and reviews site. 49% of survey respondents cite incomplete listings as a deterrent from booking with a provider. 

When you are proactive about garnering positive reviews, it helps prepare you for the potential bad review. Having positive reviews already in place offsets any negative one-offs that might come along. 

Read More: How Online Reputation Affects a Medical Practice’s Bottom Line 

Tip: claim your practice on major review platforms graphic

Attending to Your Medical Practice Online Reputation by Engaging with Reviews 

What a patient says about your medical practice is beyond your control, but this does not mean you must play a passive role. Many review channels allow you to reply to the reviews that come through. 

Proactive response is what doctors are doing about bad reviews online. Engaging with reviews is both a patient engagement and a resolution opportunity. Keep in mind that prospective patients may be reading your interaction with patients. Gratitude for positive reviews and handling the negative ones with finesse can make a favorable impression on prospective patients. 

Tips for responding to your medical practice reviews: 

  • Reply to both negative and positive reviews. 
  • Thank them for the review and frame your response to negative reviews with empathy. 
  • Respond promptly – allow no more than 24 hours from the time a review posts to address the patient’s review. 
  • Offer an honest explanation, when applicable. 
  • Do not ask the patient to delete the review. 
  • Direct the reviewer to move the conversation to a private channel. 
  • Be mindful of HIPAA policy. Do not ask questions that would prompt the reviewer to reveal health information about themselves, and if a review shares too much, you may submit a request to the moderation team to have it removed. 
  • Follow up privately to ensure the matter has been resolved to the best of your ability. 

Medical practices seeking to have outside help with replying to reviews should work with professionals who have healthcare communications expertise – as these matters are best handled with seasoned sound judgement. 

How Positive Reviews Impact Google Search 

Google not only collects online reviews for doctors as part of the Google My Business feature, but they also factor reviews to prioritize medical practices in search results (i.e. local search rank). Google’s “local pack” only has room for three establishments, so the better your star rating and reviews, the better your chances are to be featured first. 

For example, when a user searches for providers “near me,” the clinic with the 4.8-star average will appear above the one with a 4.2-star average. Also, patients finding doctors online with searches like “best pediatrician near me” will show those establishments with stellar rating averages plus reviews about them that contain the word “best.” 

Checklist for Medical Practice Online Reputation Maintenance 

Because patients finding doctors online is largely dependent on medical practice reputation, your online presence is worth nurturing. The following efforts are essential to building a robust online reputation: 

  • Constant monitoring: New reviews can emerge at any time. You may go weeks with no reviews, then have several posts in one day, but you must remain vigilant so you can respond promptly. 
  • Resolve negative reviews: Be prepared to respond to complaints swiftly and with a goal of solving the problem amicably. Always maintain a professional and courteous tone in your responses. You might be able to have some reviews removed when they disclose PHI (patient health information) or contain language that violates the forum’s community standards.  
  • Curating new reviews: A large collection of ratings featuring very recent reviews will make a favorable impression on prospective patients. As you gain more 5-star reviews, your average rating increases. It pays to ask for patient reviews daily. If a patient shares positive feedback with you directly, let them know that it would be a big help for them to post a review online. 

Medical Advantage Helps You Build the Good Reputation You Deserve 

Our practice marketing experts see firsthand how being proactive improves star ratings and the overall image of healthcare providers. But staying on top of incoming reviews can be challenging when clinic staff are working hard to care for patients during peak times. For this reason, we offer online reputation management for doctors. 

To safeguard your favorable standing online, our specialists can help maintain practice listings among all channels (there are 60-75), address or escalate negative reviews, reply to positive reviews, and offer strategies for reputation repair. Get in touch with an expert today by filling out our form. 

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