Article | April 10, 2019

Addressing The (Often Forgotten) Keys To Your Online Reputation

Source: Solutionreach Inc.

By Jim Higgins, Solutionreach

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You’ve probably heard it before—the online reputation of your healthcare organization is important to your future success. But are you aware of just HOW important it has become? And are you taking the steps necessary to create a stellar rep online? Let’s start by getting some of the key facts out of the way. What impact does your online reputation really have?

  • 82 percent of patients say it impacts their willingness to be treated by a doctor.
  • 85 percent say they wouldn’t use a doctor if more than ten percent of their reviews had a one-star rating.
  • 75 percent feel that reviews lose credibility if they are more than 12 months old.
  • 47 percent of patients would choose an out-of-network physician that has more favorable reviews.

It really is a big deal.

Managing Your Online Presence Comes With Regular Housekeeping

There are a few things you can do on a regular basis to manage your reputation online. One being to create a profile on major physician review sites such as Healthgrades and RateMDs as well as common review sites such as Google and Facebook. Keep your information on these sites as current and accurate as possible. Track your reviews and be sure to respond. Patients really do care if you respond or not. It is especially important to respond to negative reviews. At times, the simple act of responding in a professional and respectful way can alleviate some of the impact. In fact, 60 percent of patients say that it makes a difference to them when an organization responds to negative reviews. But, don’t just respond to negative reviews—pay close attention to them as well. Make sure that you address any issues mentioned, as problems in your organization should never be ignored.

This brings us to the real meat of maintaining a positive online reputation. While the tips above are important to online success, there are two major elements that are also important (and often overlooked by healthcare organizations).

First, you have to create an experience patients will actually rave about and, second, you’ve got to get them to leave you a review about it!

Create An Experience Patients Want To Brag About

Obviously, if you want patients to say that you’ve got an amazing organization, you’ve got to create an amazing organization! The first step toward achieving this goal is to measure how your practice is perceived by existing patients. Customizable surveys are a powerful tool and can provide the feedback you need to fine-tune the patient experience. The loss of one patient due to their dissatisfaction can lead to $200,000 in lost revenue over the lifetime of your practice, so it’s worth it to take the time to gauge how patients feel. Automated tools can help you distribute surveys with minimal effort on your part. This can eliminate the administrative time spent mailing and reviewing each survey while still providing your practice with valuable data. Make sure to review and follow up on suggestions or recommendations given in the surveys.

Another key to a stellar patient experience is strong, on-going communication. Patients want to hear from you. Whether that is in the office, online, or via their smartphone, you should be honing your communication skills on a regular basis. Send out educational emails to keep patients engaged and feeling supported in their care. Offer options like two-way texting so patients can reach out to you through the most commonly used method of communication. By using a HIPAA consent tool, you are now able to discuss pretty much anything through text message. You also can pump up your communication by engaging on social media. Studies show that 71 percent of people who have good interactions on social media with a practice say they would recommend you to friends.

Finally, consider offering (at least some of) the latest technological advances. These advances include tools like online self-scheduling, digital check-in processes, online billing and payment processes, mobile apps, telehealth, and more. The industry is constantly changing and evolving, and it is crucial that you don’t fall behind. Don’t feel the need to implement everything at once but do select one or two each year that best fit the needs of your particular organization.

Ask Patients To Share The Love

While most healthcare organizations are aware of how important online reviews are, they have a tendency to avoid asking for them. That is a mistake. The vast majority of patients are happy to leave reviews when asked, but few organizations do. There are ways to make this process a little bit easier. One way to do this is to create a script for everyone in the office. Practice using the script to ask patients in person. Taking this idea a little further, you can take advantage of technology to send patients a link to leave a review as part of that script. Following a good visit, ask the patient if they would be willing to share their thoughts online and leave a review. If they say yes, you can quickly and easily shoot them a text with a link to do it right then. They are much more likely to follow through if done while the visit is fresh in their minds. Similarly, when sending a follow-up survey you can include a link to leave a review as well. The key to receiving reviews is to ask.

Managing your online reputation takes a little bit of effort but with the help of technology and patient relationship management strategies, you can be sure to rock the online world.

About The Author

Jim Higgins is the CEO and founder of Solutionreach. Since 2000, Higgins has innovated and guided the direction of the Solutionreach technology to meet all patient relation management needs of dental, vision, plastic surgery and medical practice specialties.