Most healthcare providers have started to understand how important online reviews are to their practices. 72% of patients use online reviews to choose a doctor. The reviews of other patients provide that vote of confidence in the quality of care to expect and help patients make more informed healthcare decisions. But, for doctors, it’s not enough to build up a stockpile of reviews and call it a day. Review recency is another critical component of your online presence and reputation.
How review recency impacts your online presence
Review recency is paramount to credibility: Nearly 80% of Americans don’t trust reviews older than three months. It’s important to see a steady cadence of incoming reviews over time. A doctor that hasn’t received a review for several months will stick out to anyone combing through review sites. Prospective patients will wonder what happened in the interim that explains the lull.
When prospective patients look you up online, your most recent reviews are the first thing they see. Plus, the newest reviews are the most reflective of the current patient experience, since your practice will evolve as you add new treatments and procedures or make staffing changes. While a prospective patient may do a cursory read-through of your review history, it’s what’s on top that matters most.
Review recency and consistency are also important metrics that impact SEO and how you rank compared to competitors online. The algorithms that determine where you appear in search engine results consider both how highly your patients rank you and how current your reviews are. Providers with more recent, consistent reviews online outperform those whose reviews are few and far between.
How to get more reviews on a regular basis (and still follow the rules)
Yelp and Google My Business have strict standards to prevent doctors from soliciting patients for reviews. But there are a few ways to encourage feedback that puts you in the best light without violating their guidelines. The Doctor.com ReviewHub™, for example, is an in-office device that empowers patients to review your practice before they leave an appointment.
When one of our customers — a dermatologist based in Central Florida — opened her own practice in 2016, she put a ReviewHub™ in her waiting room. In two years, the number of online reviews for her practice jumped from zero to 600+ (and counting!). At the peak, she was amounting nine unique reviews per week. During this period, her appointment requests also increased by 717%. Today, she averages five new reviews per week, and her rating has climbed to 4.94 stars (out of five).
Listen, learn, and take action
Patient feedback is a powerful tool. And it’s one providers can’t ignore if you want to grow your practice. You can learn a lot about your strengths and weakness from patient reviews, then make any necessary improvements.
For example, the dermatologist mentioned above noticed she was receiving low marks for wait time. To address this, she installed a video station in her waiting room, where patients could learn about proper skincare before she called them into her office. Her rating for wait time alone jumped from two to four stars. Read our case study to learn more about how she improved the patient experience and transformed her practice in the process.
Reviews help providers take the pulse of patient satisfaction — a critical metric in measuring the success of a practice. They also help legitimize a practice when prospective patients look you up online. While the sheer number and quality of reviews are undeniably important factors for a strong online presence, review recency and consistency play a huge role in the eyes of your prospective patients, too.
Do you know how you look to patients online? Run a quick scan of your practice to find out!