Patient feedback, in the form of online reviews, benefits doctors in several ways. For one, it helps them understand the medical experience from the patient’s point of view so they can continually grow and improve their practice. But learning and development reasons aside, capturing patient feedback has proven to be a major asset in a doctor’s efforts to reach new patients and expand their practices.
The vast majority of consumers trust online reviews as much as they trust a recommendation from a family member or friend. And since 94% of prospective patients consult online reviews before selecting a new provider, it’s important to have a solid inventory of recent, high-quality reviews that accurately reflect your practice philosophy as well as the care you deliver. By paying attention to a few fundamentals of the review-gathering process you can ensure your practice captures more patient feedback. Here are five strategies to keep in mind.
1. Make it easy for patients.
If you have few reviews on any given site, you’re going to be vulnerable to one less-than-glowing piece of feedback dragging down your reputation. Make it easy for patients to write reviews so you don’t put your practice in jeopardy.
One facet of the digital age is that patients value convenience above all else. They don’t want to click through several pages or fill out lengthy forms just to leave feedback. It’s far too many steps! An overly complicated or time-consuming process will cause most patients to abandon their efforts and cost you review capital.
So, go where your patients are! They’re more likely to leave feedback on the sites and platforms they use in their daily lives or to search for care — like Yelp, Facebook, and Healthgrades — as well as those that don’t make them sign in or register for to access.
2. Remind patients that you’re open to feedback.
Studies show that 70% of satisfied customers will write you a review if you do one simple thing: Ask! Educate patients on why their feedback is helpful and where it will be most effective. Patients are driven by an altruistic sense of duty to their peers. If you remind them that their feedback will help others make the right decisions about an important matter — their health — they’ll often enthusiastically take the time to review their experience.
3. Encourage reviews at the point of care.
A best practice in review collection is to get patients to provide feedback while they’re still in the office. Engage your front-office staff as your reputation management team. When empowered by the right tools, they can be instrumental in nudging patients to leave feedback. (Bonus points for patients being able to provide more detailed feedback when the appointment is still top of mind!)
To help facilitate this most effectively, hundreds of thousands of healthcare providers rely on the Doctor.com ReviewHub™ — an in-office kiosk that captures 8x more reviews and syndicates each to top consumer sites like Facebook, Healthgrades, Vitals, and Wellness, among others. The ReviewHub™ streamlines the process for your happiest patients, who are more than willing to leave feedback when they have a simple way to get their message out there. Learn more about Doctor.com’s ReviewHub™ here.
4. Don’t be afraid of a negative review.
You can’t please everyone. Even if you do everything right, somebody somewhere might find something to complain about. But it’s important that you don’t shy away from negative patient feedback — or worse, react defensively or lash out.
The good news? One or two negative reviews actually makes patients like you more. Patients understand that doctors are human too, so a poor review now and then boosts the credibility and authenticity of your online presence. In fact, they trust reviews less when they see five stars across the board. As long as the good outweighs the bad, patients will overlook the rare pieces of feedback that don’t align with popular sentiment.
5. Respond to patient feedback so they know their input matters.
Good or bad, you should almost always respond to patients who take the time to review your practice. Thank people who leave positive reviews and acknowledge concerns brought up in a negative review before inviting a patient to resolve the issue offline. As a best practice, aim to respond to negative reviews within 48 hours to minimize potential damage.
Even a simple recognition can go a long way in making your patients feel heard. Set up a social-listening strategy and make sure someone at your office is checking for new reviews at least a few times a week. Responding to negative reviews might even turn their sentiment around!
>> Related read: Mastering reviews to become a 5-star practice
While there is no silver bullet in new patient acquisition, reviews are an important part of a holistic web presence and marketing strategy. Start paying attention to patient feedback today to appease more patients and set your practice on the right track for growth in the future.