It’s always awesome to get referrals and the word-of-mouth marketing that help you grow your practice in a way that's more cost-effective. But in a more digitally connected world, it’s clearly neither the best nor the most results-driven way to get more new patients into your office.
All you have to do is look at how almost everyone jumps on Google and to search online reviews to buy a car, evaluate a restaurant, or find a plumber, to see that going online is also how they’re choosing a healthcare practice. One study found that 94 percent of patients use online reviews to help them vet and pick a provider.
The top online review directories people go to to look for a doctor or practitioner are Google, Facebook, Yelp, and Bing. Patients are also going to healthcare-specific review sites like WebMD, Healthgrades, and Vitals.
What’s important to know is that the better you monitor and manage your practice’s reviews, the higher you will rank in search results, and elevate your visibility among prospective patients. By leveraging your practice’s online reputation, you can get better reviews that will attract more new patients.
So, where do you start? The following are four key approaches to begin building an online reputation for your practice that will help prospective patients choose you over the competition:
1. Set up a Google Alert
Go to https://www.google.com/alerts and set up a Google Alert for the name of your practice. You can choose when and how often you receive alerts. This will help you get notifications when new online reviews or comments are posted about your practice so that you can track and respond to reviews to improve your online reputation.
2. Respond Promptly to Online Reviews
You’ll want to acknowledge and thank patients who leave positive reviews and comments about your practice as well as carefully respond to and address concerns in negative reviews. Both positive and negative reviews impact your practice’s search engine optimization (SEO) rankings on search page results.
Best practice is to respond to 20 percent of positive reviews and 100 percent of negative reviews. In responding to negative reviews, make sure to remain professional, courteous, and HIPAA compliant by not discussing protected health information (PHI). Instead, ask the reviewer to connect with you offline by providing an email they can reach you at to resolve their concerns. Thirty-three percent of consumers said they would go back and change their negative review to a positive one after the business helped them with their concern.
3. Use Review Response Templates
Your front office staff are swamped with responsibilities and don’t have the time to write unique responses to new online reviews. Instead, create a set of 10 or so review response templates for both positive and negative reviews so you can quickly and easily respond. These templates will save you time and help ensure your responses stay on message and HIPAA compliant. You may also want to have your practice’s legal representative review your templates.
4. Create a Process to Ask Happy Patients for Reviews
The most effective way to get more positive reviews to improve your practice’s online reputation is to ask your “practice champions”—those happy patients that gush about your practice and its providers—to leave you a review. You can ask them in person, text or email them a link to leave you a review, and add a review link to your practice website and newsletters.
But one of the most efficient and effective ways to get more positive reviews is to use a reputation management tool that invites patients who give you high marks on satisfaction surveys to also leave you an online review. The solution allows staff to easily select patients who give you positive ratings on surveys to text or email them a link they can click on to give you an online review. That way, your happiest patients can conveniently share what they love about your practice with prospective patients online.
To learn more about how you can tweak your practice’s online reputation to get more glowing reviews and outshine your local competitors, download the guide, “Online Reputation Management: Why It’s Essential for Your Practice.”