The Currency Of Patient Trust in Online Healthcare
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The Currency Of Patient Trust in Online Healthcare: Why Reviews Matter More than Ever

Congratulations! If you’re reading this, odds are you’ve got the basics of marketing down: website, Facebook page, perhaps even an AdWords campaign.

But what about reviews? 

When checking off your marketing basics, patient reviews may not come immediately to mind. They should.  Reviews are becoming increasingly vital to the health of practice marketing. Today, consumers expect every business including their healthcare providers to have a platform (or several) for review, critique and storytelling. Here’s why that’s a good thing.

The Marriage of Visibility and ‘Reviewability’

For 77% of patients2, search engines are the first step on the path to finding a doctor. This includes patients who’ve been given direct referrals. Reviews play a big role in boosting your ranking on patient-favorite sites like Google and Bing. So even without going whole-hog on costly SEO, you can strengthen your online presence just by tapping into your patient base for reviews.

How exactly does this influence visibility? Collecting reviews earns you search engine trust. In the first half of 2017 alone, nearly 15% of local pack (those top 3 featured results that come up at the top of any business-related Google search) results were determined by reviews. Just 19% were determined by GMB profiles (Google’s own directory listing3)! In other words, Google considers reviews to be a top criteria for search-worthiness- on par with its own custom algorithms. No wonder; organic reviews prove to both search engines and potential patients that real people are actively engaged with (and searching for) your service.

The effect of having these reviews (which don’t all need to be perfect, and in fact shouldn’t be since 95% of consumers believe businesses without a single bad score are doctoring their feedback4) is synergistic. Google sees your reviews as proof that you’re engaging and delighting your customers (their searchers) and rewards you with superior ranking. This, in turn, grants you better visibility for patients to find, book with and review you.

Trust > referrals

top_ten_most_trusted_professions_by_jinx1764-d5epgjb.jpg5

In a social climate today where consumer trust has hit an all-time low6, medical professionals enjoy more trust than any other profession7So how do you leverage that trust?  What factors turn trust into reviews?

For starters, here are 3:

1. Social proof

Consumers consult an average of 10.8 sources8 before making a purchase and that’s no different when it comes to healthcare.  Word of mouth alone no longer cuts it and given trends in other marketplaces, that makes sense.  If the average consumer reads several reviews and articles, then calls two friends before choosing a hairdresser, brunch spot, etc. imagine how discerning they are in choosing a healthcare specialist. Trust is a priceless asset in winning over today’s cautious patients and social proof is the best and easiest way to garner that trust. Display your reviews widely, proudly and prominently!

2. Accessibility

Volume and recency of reviews are key to earning the trust of new patients, but most important is ensuring patients can access your reviews in the first place. The easier you make it for a patient to review you, the more likely they’ll be to do so.  If you’re not sure how strong or how accessible your practice’s reviews are, ask yourself these questions:

  • Are your reviews relegated to one web domain?
  • Is it easy for patients to post reviews on your website? How about your directory listings?
  • Are the best of your testimonials posted on your directory and business pages as well as your website?

If you answered ‘no’ to any of these questions, it might be a good idea to spend a few minutes improving the accessibility of your reviews.

3. Consistency

If you know it’s a cinch for patients to access your reviews online then it’s time for the same quality-control when it comes to the in-office patient experience.

  • Is the service in  your office consistent with the praise you’ve received online?
  • Have you invested in training for your staff to mitigate the 90%9 of negative reviews that stem from issues like wait times, clerical errors and rudeness?

If your answer to any of these questions is ‘not yet,’ don’t fear. Having a practice with no reviews, bad reviews or bad listings isn’t a terminal condition. UUHC (University of Utah Health Care), for example, found that within 13 months of beginning a patient review campaign their website traffic doubled and their online bookings increased dramatically10. That time frame is much smaller for private practices and clinics.

Before you can ramp up your reviews, you’ll need to see where you stand on the top healthcare and business sites. Don’t worry about poring through dozens of listings on your own, Doctor.com’s FREE PRACTICE DIAGNOSTIC TOOL can check your ranking and reviews across the web in seconds.

1 https://img0.etsystatic.com/158/1/14048132/il_340x270.1087687714_i1fu.jpg

http://www.softwareadvice.com/resources/how-patients-use-online-reviews/

http://wainscotmedia.com/blog/rise-near-searches

https://storage.googleapis.com/wordpress-www-vendasta/2016/08/50-Stats-You-Need-to-Know-About-Online-Reviews-white-label.jpg

https://orig10.deviantart.net/f1a5/f/2012/257/b/8/top_ten_most_trusted_professions_by_jinx1764-d5epgjb.jpg

http://www.gallup.com/poll/1597/confidence-institutions.aspx

http://www.gallup.com/poll/200057/americans-rate-healthcare-providers-high-honesty-ethics.aspx

https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/consumer-insights/the-zero-moment-of-truth-macro-study/

http://www.beckershospitalreview.com/hospital-management-administration/patients-no-1-complaint-front-desk-staff.html

10 https://hbr.org/2016/03/why-doctors-shouldnt-be-afraid-of-online-reviews

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