You’ve heard the old adage “one bad apple spoils the whole bunch.” When it comes to online reviews for private practice physicians, this couldn’t be more accurate. Despite the glowing opinions of your most loyal patients, a few unhappy respondents can drive down your score and leave prospective new patients feeling wary.
For years, the healthcare industry has wrestled with how much credit to give review sites such as Yelp and Google Places. But today, with so many patients turning to healthcare-specific review sites like Healthgrades and RateMDs, and the growing presence of healthcare providers on Facebook, there’s no denying the importance of online reviews and social media. In fact, according to statistics provided by the Mayo Clinic Health Care Social Media List and American Hospital Association, 41 percent of people said social media would affect their choice of a specific doctor, hospital or medical facility.
So, how do you improve online reviews along with your online reputation? Here are a few of the best practices for private practice doctors:
Take a Proactive Approach
Before your patient leaves your office doors, he should be asked if he’s completely satisfied by your care. You can fit this question naturally into the conversation after asking if he has any additional questions or concerns. Additionally, you may want to consider providing short surveys to measure patient satisfaction. If his response is anything less than completely satisfied, follow up to see how you can improve his next visit.
Claim Your Spots
Choosing not to take part in social media and online review sites won’t fix the problem. In fact, it could make things worse. Patients are going to share their opinions and experiences via social media and online review sites whether you join in or not, so it’s better for you to establish your presence. Claim your profiles, and monitor them closely. When someone posts something negative, use it as an opportunity to turn the patient around by expressing empathy and scheduling a time to discuss the matter more in depth over the phone. This shows the patient you actually care about their feedback and, simultaneously, shows other users you have a vested interest in your patient's’ satisfaction.
Leverage Your Loyal Patients
You have a number of patients who have been coming to your practice for quite awhile. Over the years, you’ve developed a friendly rapport. You remember which patient has a daughter majoring in chemistry and which patient has a son who plays soccer. These same patients always take time to ask about your spouse or latest vacation. These people have the kinds of stories prospective patients need to hear, so don’t be afraid to ask them to share online. More often than not, they’ll be more than happy to oblige.
Don’t Ask for Positive Reviews
This may seem counterintuitive, but it’s important to note. In addition to being unethical, asking patients for positive reviews is a big no-no in the eyes of most review sites. It’s easy to discover which practices are incentivizing positive reviews and, once they catch on, they’ll delete your inauthentic reviews. Some websites may even ban you from maintaining an account. Instead, ask for reviews—just don’t ask for happy ones specifically. Give your patients a great experience, and positive comments will grow organically.
Most importantly, create a positive culture. Everyone from your receptionist and administrative staff to your nurses and technicians should exhibit a polite, friendly demeanor. The more comfortable your patients are in your office, the more likely they are to share this experience with others.
A more efficient clinic can help increase patient satisfaction and, in turn, improve your online reviews. Download our free eBook, Stop the Budget Bleed: How Private-Practice Physicians Can Reduce Spend, to learn how to enhance business operations at your clinic.