Online patient reviews are more important than ever to running a successful practice. Even after a patient has been referred, 81% will seek reviews when making a healthcare-related decision, and 60% will choose one doctor over another based on a positive online reputation. Considering the experiences of other patients is now an essential part of the patient journey. And it has a broad impact on the healthcare industry writ large.
While the majority of Americans read online patient reviews, who takes the time to write them? It’s important to understand the three types of patients that will review your practice to figure out the primary drivers of their feedback, see how it will impact your practice and new patient acquisition, and learn how to boost ratings.
1. The happy patient and practice evangelist
This patient makes every doctor smile! They are your biggest champions, who not only provide great word-of-mouth referrals to friends and acquaintances but also sing your praises online to the troves of anonymous strangers beginning their search for a new doctor.
These happy customers are driven to leave reviews by their appreciation of the care received and service rendered. They’re also motivated by a sense of altruism to share their positive experiences with a greater community. To turn more happy patients into practice evangelists who spread the word far and wide, doctors can focus on customer service, which 82% consider the most important factor influencing loyalty to a provider.
Positive reviews do more than boost your reputation on the sites people use to look for providers. They also improve your SEO ranking. Plus, you can link to and repurpose great reviews on your website and the other places you advertise your practice.
2. The patient with a bone to pick
On the flip side, a bad review can cause immediate panic among physicians. These patients had a less-than-optimal experience and feel compelled to tell the world about it. Health is a highly personal issue that, good or bad, can elicit an emotionally charged response. Many factors outside of your control — from being able to find parking to interactions with their insurance company — can affect a patient’s impression of the overall experience. And, if a patient wants to vent their frustrations in a public forum, they’re going to make noise.
The good news? These types of reviewers are few and far between. What’s even better is that a smattering of negative reviews actually lends authenticity to your presence on review sites. In fact, 95% of people suspect reviews have been curated or otherwise manipulated if they don’t see any negative scores. As long as the good outweighs the bad, prospective patients will know to take a few disgruntled patient reviews with a grain of salt.
When you get a review from an upset patient venting online, respond within 48 hours, acknowledge their frustrations sympathetically, and find a way to take the conversation offline. If you’re able to make it right, you may even turn a frustrated patient into a happy customer.
>> Related read: Mastering reviews to become a 5-star practice
3. The patient with constructive criticism
A third type of person likely to leave an online review has emerged as a hybrid between the happy customer and disgruntled patient. This patient has specific feedback about their experience that’s actually constructive. Since most negative reviews result from customer service complaints, doctors can identify areas of improvement and react accordingly.
For example, when one Doctor.com customer started amassing online patient reviews, she learned that several of her patients were upset by long wait times once they got to her office. So she took action. She installed a station in her lobby with informative videos on skincare that patients could watch while they waited. Her ratings quickly saw the effect of this thoughtful addition. For wait time alone, her rating jumped from two to four stars (out of five), and today she enjoys an overall rating of 4.94!
For more about how this doctor strengthened her online presence as well as the inspiring results we helped her achieve, read the case study here.
Secure more favorable online patient reviews
It’s clear that a deep well of recent, high-quality reviews is critical to your online presence and marketing strategy. Make it easy for patients to leave feedback. Capture reviews from your happiest patients while they’re still in the office — and their visit is top of mind.
What does your online presence and reputation look like to prospective patients? Run a free scan of your practice to see how you measure up on the review sites that matter most.