Guest Column | August 7, 2019

How'd You Meet Your Physician? Online!

By Jim Higgins, Solutionreach

Doctor ON tablet

I think we all know that more and more people are meeting online. More than 40 percent of all dating relationships now start online. It is the number one way Americans meet partners. However, online relationships go beyond romance. The majority—57 percent—of teens (and many adults as well) report that they have made new platonic friends online. In addition, business/customer relationships also start online—and this includes the healthcare industry. In fact, one new study found that looking for healthcare information is the third most common online activity.

This means that, just as you would put effort into a dating profile, a similar amount of effort should be put into the online “profile” of your healthcare organization. Everything from your website to your reviews to your social media presence has a huge impact on the way potential patients see your organization. Lack of an attractive online persona can make your practice seem old-fashioned or archaic. It is such a big deal that 88 percent of those under age 40 say they will choose their next medical provider based on a strong online presence.

Make Sure Your Healthcare Organization Is Easy To Find

It doesn’t matter how amazing you look online looks if no one can find you! Ask yourself—how easy is it for potential patients to find information about your practice online? Do you provide all the information necessary to help your office stand out? Is that information current, accurate, and positive? Are you updating your website with valuable information on a regular basis? To be found, you have to pay attention to search engine rankings. Search engine rankings are critical to being found online and while there are many factors in search rankings, online reviews can help a lot.

Let’s face it—search engines are more likely to believe your patients’ opinions over yours. Strong online reviews send a signal to big search engines like Google that you are a business that can be trusted. In a study of 30,000 online businesses, online reviews increased page visits by 40 percent in nine months. Generating online reviews can boost your search ranking and help put your organization at the top of search results.

Online Reviews Should Be Carefully Monitored

Let’s start by talking about the dreaded negative review. Many healthcare organizations are hesitant to ask patients for online reviews, fearing they may get poor feedback. Don’t fall into this trap! Negative reviews are not as bad as they may seem at first glance. First, people are more likely to believe your overall rating when there are a few negative reviews thrown in there. Many people assume that your online reviews are fake if there are no negative reviews at all. That’s right! You can be hurt by not having any negative reviews.

Negative reviews also help you uncover small problems happening in your practice. This lets you correct them before they turn into big problems. In addition, even a negative review adds to the total number of reviews you have. And this is important. Experts note that the quantity of reviews has a significant impact on the behavior of those reading the review. The more the better! So don’t get so worried about the rating you might be given that you stop asking for reviews altogether.

Use Technology To Encourage More Reviews

Yes, you need a lot of reviews but, fortunately, there is good news! Studies show that 70 percent of people will leave a review if asked. That’s the most important thing you can do—ask. The most efficient way to do so? Through technology. Of course, managing your online presence across multiple review sites like Google and Facebook takes extra time that most healthcare professionals don’t have. Using technology to automate this process is critical to a successful review strategy. Start by using technology to include links to leave a review in your emails, newsletters, and other patient communication. This includes text messages!

Technology today allows you to send messages to patients during or directly following an appointment via text message. Patients can actually leave a review before they even walk out of your office, while they are still thinking about the great experience they just had. Some technologies go even further—not just making it easy to send a review request, but helping you know which patients are most likely to leave a great one. 

Most healthcare organizations would love to gain new patients. Doing so is a challenge made more complex by the internet. New technology solutions are key to competing in an online world. Innovative, high-impact tools that maximize your online presence and reputation will help you stand out.

About The Author

Jim Higgins is the founder & CEO of Solutionreach. You can follow him on Twitter: @higgs77.