Over the past several years there has been a virtual explosion in the presence and popularity of review websites that offer a platform for patrons and patients to leave comments about everything from coffee shops to colonoscopies. Many medical professionals view such sites with a wary eye seeing them as nothing but potential trouble, but that is the wrong attitude to take.
Embrace the Trend
A recent Wall Street Journal/Harris poll shows that about 20% of patients leave doctor reviews on various review websites. An even more revealing figure is the 90% of patients that indicated they were interested in reading online reviews about physicians in order to learn more about their medical knowledge, reliability, communication skills, and availability. These numbers will continue to grow because of the sheer number of young people already comfortable with Internet reviews who are entering adult life and making health decisions on their own.
Get Ahead of the Curve
The first step in becoming proactive about your online reputation is establishing authority. Sites such as WebMD and others provide you with the perfect platform to manage information about yourself and your practice and only cost a little bit of your time. Rather than wait for others to post information about you, take charge and be the first to post accurate and up-to-date information.
Don’t hesitate to ask satisfied patients to rate you online. A follow-up card or email is a subtle way to get your patients talking about you in a positive way online. Never pressure patients but instead encourage them to share positive comments they have already made to you with others. Here are some steps to take in getting ahead of the curve with patient reviews for doctors:
- Guide patients to reputable doctor-rating sites – One way to get ahead of the curve is to provide patients with a handout or blog posts listing review sites you have already provided a profile for. Don’t tell them what to post but rather tell them how. Studies show that the great majority of patients who are encouraged to leave comments will speak of you in a positive light. While dissatisfied patients can draw a lot of attention for a short time the best way to overcome the occasional negative is through the sheer numbers of positives. 90% of user-generated feedback is positive. It follows then, that your best course of action is to encourage feedback.
- Create an easy-to-use system for patients to give their feedback – An active and well-publicized email address may well be the very best way to head off most negative online reviews. By giving patients an accessible way to expressproblems a large portion of those negative reviews will never see the light of day. A well-placed office sign that encourages patients to express any concerns and feedback forms are inexpensive and just one more step in letting your patients know you want to hear their concerns should they have any.
Monitor Your Online Reputation
Take advantage of our free review tool that gives you a quick way to see what patients are saying about you at sites like Healthgrades, RateMds, YahooLocal, RealSelf, and Wellness.com. Most negative reviews quickly become positives when responded to in a timely manner. More often than not those few bad reviews have nothing to do with you as a physician but rather with how much time a patient waited before being seen or an office worker’s bad attitude. By using our review monitoring tool you can head this off at the pass, correct problems if they exist, and win back a patient by listening to what they had to say.