The use of online review sites has surpassed word-of-mouth referrals for patients seeking — and finding — healthcare providers. According to Doctor.com proprietary research, 80% of patients use the internet to make their healthcare-related decisions. They view your online profiles, read patient reviews and evaluate rankings, scan your listings, and, ultimately, schedule an appointment at your practice.
But with countless online review sites and directories, it’s hard for healthcare providers to keep up. Maintain compelling online profiles to help your practice stand out from the competition, attract more patients, and win their business. Here’s how.
1. Fill in the vitals
First things first. Some basics are mandatory in all of your profiles. Most obviously, these include your practice’s address, a working phone number, and hours of operation. Other information more specific to the healthcare industry is also necessary: insurances accepted, special services available, and procedures offered. Don’t forget to link to a modern, mobile-optimized website either! Your online profiles are not only incomplete without this information, but patients will also question your legitimacy or wonder if you’re still in the biz.
>> Related read: Ace your online presence
2. Keep your information up to date across all online profiles
One of the most frustrating patient experiences can happen early in their healthcare journey: encountering incorrect, incomplete, or conflicting information about a practice or provider on the web. But with so many different listings and profiles, it’s hard to keep track of it all. For busy healthcare professionals, checking that all of your listings are 100% accurate is bound to fall through the cracks.
Change your office hours? Open up a new location? Expand the procedures you offer? No problem! Learn more about managing your online listings here.
3. Make use of images and video
Getting high-quality photos and videos may seem like an investment, especially to single-provider practices. But don’t shy away from this important step because of an initial sticker shock — they are 100% worth the investment and will pay off big in the long run. Not only do photos increase your SEO value, but profiles with pictures also perform better: A profile with 10+ pictures on Yelp, for example, gets businesses 12x more customer leads per month than a comparable business profile without.
So, show off your office! Add a great headshot of yourself and include photos of your staff to put faces to names. Highlight high-tech equipment or feature special amenities that might persuade a patient to pick you over the competition. It lets patients know what to expect when they arrive at your office and builds trust, which can help them feel more comfortable choosing your practice and following through with an appointment.
4. Differentiate your practice
In all metropolitan and suburban areas, patients have choices when it comes to their healthcare. And, in most cases, there are myriad competent providers to choose from. The success of your practice hinges on your ability to stand out in a crowded playing field.
Your online profiles offer an ideal platform for showcasing what makes your practice unique and better than the competition. Answer any questions a patient might have. What’s your patient philosophy? And what about you — do you have any hobbies? Where did you go to medical school? Any of these identifying factors may just tip the scale in your favor…
5. Enable appointment requests on all of your online profiles (and your website)
Patients increasingly don’t want to switch channels to make an appointment. They expect a unified, convenient, and seamless experience when seeking care. Streamline the booking process by offering appointment requests online — wherever your patients find you. Today, 60% of appointments are booked outside of normal business hours. Don’t miss a patient just because your office was closed. Learn more about enabling appointment requests anywhere patients find you.
6. Encourage patients to leave reviews
Reviews can be a healthcare provider’s greatest online asset. Today, 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation from friends. In healthcare, 81% of patients seek out reviews when choosing a provider, and 60% will choose one over another based on their online reputation. Considering feedback from their peers has become an increasingly important part of the patient journey.
The more reviews a practice accumulates, the more positive the ratings tend to skew. And encouraging your happiest patients to leave feedback doesn’t have to be an arduous process. See how to increase the number of patient reviews your practice generates here.
7. Engage continuously
Be active on your profiles and engage the patients who leave you reviews. Thank happy patients who sing your praises. Not only are they already paying customers, but they’re also more likely to return to your practice as well as continue to leave you positive reviews in the future.
Did someone drop you any less-than-glowing feedback? Don’t worry! As long as the good outweighs the bad, having a couple of negative reviews actually lends credibility to your online presence as a whole. Thank them for reaching out, address any concerns, and take the conversation offline to respond more personally. For more tips on responding to reviews — as well as a cheat sheet of canned responses — download Doctor.com’s ebook.
Are you ready to bulk up your profiles and attract new patients? Scan your practice’s presence across the websites patients use most. You’ll see what prospective patients see when they look you up online and start the journey toward taking control of your online reputation.