Think back 20 years to a time when you needed a recommendation for a new family physician, orthodontist, or orthopedic surgeon. What would you have done? If you were like most people, you’d ask your friends, family members, and co-workers for a recommendation.
And today? You’d be more likely to put the question to Google. A list of reviews, likely from people you don’t know, will appear on the Google search page. Most healthcare consumers now rely not only on the recommendations of their friends, but also on the opinions of strangers.
In fact, 82% of Americans reported in a Pew Research Center survey that they read online reviews at least some of the time when making decisions on where they spend their money. Healthcare isn’t excluded from that.
The online reputation of your healthcare practice can be buoyed or broken on what patients write about their experiences. To ensure that you maintain your caseload while attracting new patients, you must manage your healthcare reviews and listings on the internet.
Marketing experts recommend you frequently review top sites and respond to all reviews in a timely and professional manner. You should also look for errors in your listings, which could frustrate potential patients and unnecessarily cause them to decide against your practice.
Then, you can create a targeted email campaign to earn even more positive reviews and grow your healthcare business without spending a penny on advertising.
We make it easy to build loyalty with patients and clients, drive referrals, and grow your center.
Sites to check
No matter how big or small, every healthcare practice should have its own website. This is where all listings and reviews will point people searching for new medical professionals. Be sure your website is designed to be easily navigated on mobile devices and includes a page for contacting your office.
Then, set a calendar reminder to check the following sites at least weekly. Review your profile information so it’s up-to-date, and respond to every review.
Google My Business
If you haven’t set up your Google My Business, this is the place to start. You can sign up for free and enter your business name as you’d like to be branded. If a partner has left your practice, for example, you’ll want to update the business name right away.
Check that your location is accurate in Google Maps, and double-check your contact number and website address. This information shows up on the right-hand side of the Google search results page when someone searches directly for your business. Don’t let an error turn them away.
You’ll want to fill out your Healthgrades Physician page completely and accurately, too. To accomplish this, have an authorized representative of your practice go to the physician portal sign-in page and scroll the sidebar for the profile section.
Look for any red dots, which indicate unfinished sections. Edit any information that is out of date or incomplete, and don’t forget to save at the end. Add photos, insurance carriers, and accepted plans, your care philosophy, conditions treated, and all procedures your practice performs.
Physicians will need to claim their profile in Vitals in order to appear as active, which is the first step to updating your listing. If you’ve recently moved offices or changed your last name, you may not show up in the system yet.
This database of doctors has more than one million profiles, so stand out by adding in your years of experience, accepted insurance types, the languages you speak, and your education, as well as your specialized fields and board certifications.
RateMD recently underwent a major redesign, so many once-listed practices can no longer be found. You’ll need the driver’s license number of the physician in question or a billing statement to claim a profile on RateMD, which may need to happen even if you did it previously.
Unlike some other sites, RateMD will remove reviews if you can prove they were made fraudulently. It’s also possible to pay to remove up to three comments. Still, it’s better to address problems rather than hide them.
Although not as popular as Google for reviews, Yelp still ranks high on the Google search page when someone is looking for your practice. Claim your Yelp Business Page and fill out the profile completely. The photo can be your business’s logo if you have one.
Finally, be sure your practice has a presence on social media. You should have a Facebook business page where you can not only have accurate information about your services, but you can also share blog posts and encourage patients to post reviews.
How to respond to reviews
To maintain a good online reputation, it is vital that an office manager or someone from your practice monitors these sites frequently so that you can respond as soon as possible to every review, good or bad. When a loyal patient writes a glowing review, you can simply thank them for the kind words and for trusting you with their healthcare needs.
But what happens if a patient writes a scathingly bad review? It’s bound to happen, no matter how high a physician’s level of integrity and respect in the community. Here are the key steps for addressing the issues in a manner professional enough that it may even result in new patients:
- First, let the reviewer know that you understand their concerns. Do not deny the situation, no matter how unfounded. The patient was upset enough to write a review, so use a good “bedside manner” to let them know that you acknowledge the issue.
- Apologize, even if you believe the patient was the one in the wrong. You can apologize for not meeting their expectations. Take the high road, always.
- If warranted, give an explanation. For example, if a computer error caused the misunderstanding, add this detail to the response. But don’t make excuses.
- Find a solution. If it’s unclear, ask the reviewer to contact your office manager so that you can address it offline. Give the name and contact number of a specific person who has been briefed on the situation.
In general, people reading reviews don’t expect every person to write a glowing tale of their experience. They just want to see that you can handle situations professionally and with kindness.
Increasing positive reviews
For many review sites, you’ll rank higher in searches for specialties or procedures if you have more positive reviews. To increase your reviews, you’ll need to ask your happy, satisfied patients to take the time to write one.
One way to do this is to set up an automated email to follow up on every appointment. In the email, ask patients directly to spend five minutes sharing their experience on the review site of their choice. You can include links to your profiles on all the different review sites.
You can even incentivize the request by giving away water bottles or other items branded with your practice name to those who show you their feedback.
Build your practice’s reputation
A good strategy for managing your online reputation can go a long way toward increasing leads and return patients. For more ideas for connecting with your patients to increase your positive reviews, check out The Download, Constant Contact’s guide on internet marketing for health professionals, for free today.