Ajay Prasad is the CEO of GMR Web Team, a full-service healthcare digital marketing agency focused on patient acquisition and retention.
If your online reviews are not reflecting your patient satisfaction levels, it’s a disservice to your practice and to patients. In a 2021 patient review survey conducted by another company I run, we found that 81% of patients now consider online reviews before choosing a doctor, and 75% will only consider a provider with a 4-star rating or higher.
When our clients first come to us, we often find that their online reviews do not accurately reflect their true levels of patient satisfaction. Actual satisfaction levels are often very high even though their star rating does not reflect that. For example, we found that cardiologists were averaging a 4-star online rating even though they were scoring 9.5 out of 10 on satisfaction surveys.
This means that patients can be rejecting excellent doctors based on online reviews while doctors are losing out on new patients even though they provide excellent care. Unfortunately, it only takes a few negative online reviews to hurt your practice’s reputation.
Here are some proven techniques to help you improve your healthcare practice’s online reputation and attract more potential new patients.
1. Encourage Happy Patients To Leave Reviews
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Most of your happy clients who made you their go-to physician may not naturally feel the need to express their satisfaction online. They may show gratitude in person or by phone, but the lack of positive online reviews can still hurt your reputation.
Generally, unhappy patients are more active in expressing their dissatisfaction on review sites for different reasons, such as to get your attention or alert others. This can create a potentially devastating discrepancy where your online reputation doesn’t reflect your practice’s actual image to patients. Prospective patients reading some of the bad reviews may be under the impression that you’re not a reliable healthcare provider.
The only way to counteract a few negative comments is by encouraging your many happy patients to express their gratitude online.
2. Always Respond To Reviews, Whether Positive Or Negative
Unacknowledged negative reviews often look more credible than acknowledged ones in the eyes of many prospects. They can create the wrong impression that things are probably that bad at your practice and you’re unable to do anything about it. But when you respond, you convey the positive message that the patient experience matters to you, and that you’re willing to address all concerns.
Responding to as many reviews as possible is a vital part of online reputation management for doctors. You can prevent a minor misunderstanding from evolving into a full-blown public relations problem by responding to a negative review and asking the reviewer to contact you offline. If you can address their concern and retain their business, encourage the patient to rewrite their review.
3. Survey Patients After Appointments
By conducting patient satisfaction surveys, you can capture key aspects of care that cause dissatisfaction and affect your reputation. We have found that surveying patients right after their appointment yields the most genuine and helpful feedback.
Incorporate your survey findings into your action plan for patient experience or care improvements to prevent future dissatisfaction. Proving that you’re a listening healthcare provider will encourage more patients to come to you first instead of rushing online to write a negative review.
To make the most of your patient satisfaction surveys, incorporate a rating system. This will enable you to measure patient experience levels.
4. Use A Digital Patient Engagement Platform
Many patients today expect greater engagement in healthcare as it can improve their health outcomes. Positive treatment results bring higher patient satisfaction rates and an improved reputation for your practice. You can accomplish this by leveraging a digital patient engagement platform.
With technologies like telemedicine, you can let your patients be more engaged in their treatment decision-making process. Digital tools can help foster patient-doctor interactions with features like appointment reminders via text message, appointment scheduling and post-care patient satisfaction surveys.
5. Use AI-Powered Patient Sentiment Analysis
AI-driven sentiment analysis can help highlight concerns indicative of broader systemic problems impacting patient satisfaction. This technology, which we use for our clients, can quickly analyze tons of online comments and uncover general patterns that may be difficult to spot manually. If there are hidden negative sentiments in the feedback, the machine learning algorithms can pick them out with a high level of precision.
Just like online reviews, patient sentiment analysis should inform your action plan to improve care and experiences at your healthcare practice to improve patient satisfaction and your online reputation simultaneously.
6. Display Positive Reviews On Your Practice’s Website
While you shouldn’t ignore negative feedback, it’s the positive reviews that get you new referrals, patients and retention. Create a dedicated page on your website to display positive patient testimonials. It’s an effective strategy to let the positive reviews shine and stand out.
7. Train Your Team For Better Patient Service Results
Excellent customer service etiquette in healthcare is one of the crucial reputation management activities for doctors. Constant complaints about things like unfriendly front desk staff or poor communication can put your practice’s reputation at risk. You can protect your practice’s image by training your staff to provide the best possible experiences.
Stay Ahead Of Competition With A Stellar Online Reputation
In today’s digital world, most patients use online reviews to assess doctors. A stellar online reputation can help you make a positive impression on prospective patients ahead of your healthcare competitors.
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Author: Ajay Prasad, Forbes Councils Member