By Jim Higgins, Solutionreach
The way a practice is presented online is one of the most influential factors when patients are choosing a medical provider. With the world at their fingertips, patients can, and do, search the internet before making decisions, and that includes decisions about their healthcare. With just a few taps on a smartphone, patients can see the wide variety providers in any location. It’s safe to say that if a practice doesn’t appear in an internet search, patients probably won’t choose it.
Establishing an online presence is just as important as hanging that shingle out in front of the office. However, building an online reputation takes a little more time and persistence. But that doesn’t mean it has to be overwhelming. Using patient relationship management (PRM) software that integrates with the existing practice management system can help a practice develop and manage an online presence without spending a lot time on the task. With just a few simple strategies, practices can build their reputation online, and in turn grow their practice.
Engage On Social Media
In 2016, patients spent an average of two hours every day on social media sites. Healthcare practices don’t have that kind of time to spend on social media, but it’s still important to engage with patients through these sites. Creating a business page on Facebook or claiming the practice page on Google Places or Yelp are great first steps. But once the pages are set up, sharing content and connecting with patients is vital.
With PRM software, a practice can manage all of their social media accounts in one platform. Posts can be scheduled ahead of time, so even if an office gets busy, social media posts won’t be overlooked or forgotten. Sharing the latest trends or industry research can help build credibility with potential patients looking for a new provider.
Social media is also a great way to engage with current patients. Responding to posts, answering questions, or running contests not only builds the loyalty of current patients, it also lets potential patients see how the provider interacts with their patients. Patients want providers who care and make an effort to build relationships. The way a practice responds to patients on social media can be used as a forecast for how people will be treated once they become patients.
Ask Patients For Reviews
Not only are patients searching for healthcare providers online, they are also reading what other patients have to say about them. In fact, 84 percent of patients trust an online review as much as a personal recommendation from somebody they know. The best way to increase the amount of reviews left about a practice is to make it easy for staff to solicit them, and easy for patients to complete them.
Sending invitations to review the practice via text empowers every member of the practice staff to build patient relationships and ask for a review. When a member of the practice staff has positive interactions with a patient, they can send a text message review invitation through the PRM software. The text contains a clickable link the patient can follow to leave their review. It’s a simple process for both the practice and the patient.
Have A Process In Place
Once reviews have been posted online, healthcare practices can’t afford to ignore them. It’s important to have a process in place to respond to any reviews left about the practice. PRM software can gather all the reviews left, so the practice can view them all in one place, ensuring every review is seen.
Responding to the positive reviews is easy, but it’s beneficial to have a procedure for responding to negative reviews also. Responding promptly to all reviews with a thoughtful response will show both current and potential patients the practice values their feedback. Negative reviews are inevitable, but responding positively and with empathy to the patient’s point of view will go a long way in increasing the practice’s reputation. Training one or a few specific individuals to respond to all reviews will help the practice maintain one voice and ensure they are dealt with appropriately.
A main concern for healthcare facilities is protecting the privacy of their patients. When a practice engages with patients online, it’s vital to ensure all HIPAA regulations are followed. This includes keeping patient identities confidential along with any other protected health information a practice has access to. Healthcare practices should make every effort to ensure any of their practice staff who interact with patients online have been properly trained to follow all compliance regulations.
Using the features of PRM software, practices can build and maintain their online presence, making their practice more easily found by potential patients, and increasing the loyalty of their current ones.