19 million Americans search for a doctor online each year, and that number will continue to grow for the foreseeable future. As patients have become accustomed to searching for doctors online, much like customers search for products on Amazon, online reviews have become a critical part of choosing a healthcare provider. For consumers, having no reviews is akin to a “closed” or “out of business.” The lack of patient reviews, and a strategy to build and maintain a positive reputation online, is almost certainly hurting your practice’s bottom line. If you’re not convinced, here are five major reasons you need to take online reviews seriously starting now.
It kills your credibility
A star rating has become the primary factor that consumers use to judge a business. 94% of consumers would use a business with a four-star rating, but only 14% would even consider a practice with two stars or less.
Ratings are no less important when it comes to choosing a healthcare provider, since more than three-quarters of patients use online reviews as their first step in finding a new doctor. Practices with zero reviews essentially lose out on the chance to attract these patients. If you’re worried about opening up the “floodgates,” rest assured — a majority of reviews are positive or neutral, and only 7% tend to be negative.
You’re giving business to your competition
A nonexistent online reputation for your practice is like free advertising for competitors, especially within your zip code and specialty. Most of the web’s top healthcare sites (e.g., Healthgrades, Wellness, etc.) feature better-ranked local doctors on the pages of their competitors. So, if Dr. Jones’ practice, 10 minutes away from you, has even one review, any patients referred to you will see a more attractive option when they look you up.
It makes you hard to find
Patients who see a practice with no stars (especially if alongside outdated or incorrect names, phone numbers, or addresses) might assume you’re out of business. Google might too. You may not know it if you haven’t entered the SEO arena, but reviews play a big role in determining your search ranking and, therefore, your online visibility.
Leaders in SEO have determined that reviews are playing an increasingly important role in search rankings and local pack results. Simply put, online reviews signal that your business is active and relevant to consumers.
You lose out on revenue
A Harvard Business study determined that each star a restaurant accrued on Yelp had an impact on revenue between 5–9%. If that’s true for the food industry — where the stakes are, well, steaks — imagine how ratings might affect revenue for medical practices where the stakes (and costs) are astronomically higher.
As long as your practice has 0 stars, you’re ignoring untapped revenue just out of reach.
Patients want to give you good reviews
On top review platforms like Yelp, reviews skew positive. 78% of businesses have a three-star rating or better. Healthcare providers as a whole have an average rating of over four stars. Opening your practice up to patient feedback will automatically improve your reputation (assuming you are running a great practice).
For the few that leave negative reviews, most have to do with customer service (e.g., staff attitude, long wait times, or brusque bedside manner) — which are highly solvable issues.
In sum, reviews are essential for modern-day survival, and collecting even a few can put you in a much higher bracket of search, engagement, and bookings from online patients.
For more helpful tips on kick-starting your online reputation, check out our helpful guide.
If you’re ready to take the next step and see how a tailored online reviews strategy can help your practice be more successful in 2018, you can request a free web strategy session with one of our practice consultants by clicking here.
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