Doctor review sites. The phrase alone is enough to make many physicians groan. The idea of putting your private practice on the internet for millions of people to view and review can be daunting. Regardless of how you feel about them, the truth is that patients everywhere are using review sites to determine where to go for health care. For many, when a physician has no online presence outside of their physical practice it can be seen as a red flag. Most people don’t want to do business with someone they don’t know about. That’s why it’s imperative for doctors to take proactive steps to shape their reputations - especially online, where more and more people are turning for their information.
Patients Trust Physician Review Sites
Not only are online review sites frequently visited, but they are also widely trusted. According to a BrightLocal Consumer Survey, 80% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. If that’s the case, then most people would trust doctor review sites just as much as their own mother’s opinion. That’s a powerful voice for an online community.
What Patients are Looking For
If you’re starting to wonder what your reputation looks like to potential patients on review sites, it might first help to create a patient persona to understand the criteria people are using to review physicians. Patients aren’t necessarily reviewing the effectiveness of care provided or the outcome of a patient’s health. What they are reviewing are things such as doctor-patient interactions and doctor personality traits.
You could be the best pediatric neurosurgeon in the world, but there might have been a day where a mother and her child had to wait an unusually long time in your office to receive treatment due to an unavoidable issue with another patient. If your online presence consists of one Healthgrades review written by a dissatisfied patient who unfortunately who had a long wait time, that is all people will see when they search for you online.
How To Handle Negative Reviews
So that leads the question; what’s the best way to handle a bad review?
Directly engage with patients by acknowledging and responding to their reviews.
You don’t need to go to great lengths to try removing a review in hopes of untarnishing your online reputation. Unfortunately, a bad experience at a physician's office is going to happen. The best way to show your patient population that you care is by being human, and acknowledging an unfortunate event that is rare and unintended in your practice. When visitors to doctor review sites see your efforts to communicate with patients even after they have left your office, this will greatly improve your reputation.
Encourage Positive Reviews
On the other hand, it’s just as important to engage with patients who share online reviews that praise your practice. It’s also okay to encourage patients to participate in online reviews. These reviews can be pivotal in determining a patient’s choice of physician, so capitalize on the opportunity and allow satisfied patients to share their experience.
Keep Your Information Current
Another step you can take to improve your online presence is by simply making sure that all of the information provided on review sites is up to date and complete. When potential patients are looking for a physician to visit, they are only more likely to come to your practice if you have a current address and contact info, along with basic information that identifies your specialty.
Embrace Doctor Review Sites
By being engaged online and ensuring that you are providing relevant info about your practice on review sites, you have taken simple steps that can lead to new patients. Utilize doctor review sites because if you don’t, you’re letting other people tell your story.
Embracing review sites is just one of the many marketing techniques you can implement in your practice. Here are some other ways you can market your practice and communicate effectively with patients.
Hunter McKay is the marketing manager at Pinkston, Inc. Stay updated on all Pinkston content by following us on Twitter (@Pinkston_co).