In recent years, your patients have become much more consumer-savvy when it comes to their healthcare. What does that mean? They’ve developed higher expectations about what they want in their healthcare experience. And just like in retail, they want their interactions and care with providers to be faster, easier, and more convenient.
Nowhere is that more evident than how today’s patients select a healthcare provider. Gone are the days when patients relied solely on referrals or word of mouth recommendations to find a doctor, dentist, or vision specialist. In a word, they Google it.
Just like if they weren’t trying to decide on a restaurant, online purchase, or other consumer transaction, they jump on the internet and check user online reviews on that particular product, service or business.
The same now goes for healthcare. Roughly 94 percent of patients (of all age groups) search online reviews to get information about providers and help them select a practitioner.
Patients are reading online reviews on:
To evaluate your practice—as well as your competitors—they’re also going to healthcare-specific review sites like:
The gist here is, in order for you to attract new patients—and get them to choose your practice over your competitors—you’ve got to make managing reviews a priority. The better you can manage online reviews that patients leave about your practice, the more new patients you’ll be able to acquire and grow your business.
6 Key Steps to Leveraging Reviews to Acquire More Patients
#1—Ask Your Happy Patient for Reviews
The simplest way to get your practice more 4- and 5-star online reviews that help you build an appealing online reputation is to ask your practice champions. These are the patients that give your practice glowing feedback on patient satisfaction surveys. Reach out to those patients that heap praise upon your practitioners and staff. Make it a standard practice to ask these patients to leave you a review on your preferred review website.
You’ll get an even better response from these patients if you simplify the process by sending a text or email to them with a direct link to leave the review. Making it easier for them to give you a review helps you not only increase the quantity of reviews about your practice but also improves the quality by adding more positive reviews. This combination factors into search engine algorithms to help your practice place higher on the page when people search online reviews.
#2—Track Your Reviews
It’s important to track new reviews patients post about your practice. One trick to help you monitor new reviews is to set up a Google Alert for the name of your practice. That way, you can more easily follow new reviews and know what’s being said about your practice and if that feedback is generally positive or negative.
A reputation management tool can help you automate this process so that you can collect and manage online reviews and eliminate much of the manual workload of tracking reviews. That way, you never miss a review and you’re able to more easily do the next step, which is to reply to patient reviews.
#3—Respond Promptly to Reviews
Responding to online reviews helps you increase search engine optimization (SEO) on those reviews so that your practice will rank higher when prospective patients search for a doctor. For the most impact, you’ll want to respond to new reviews within 48 hours. This shows both existing and prospective patients that you're responsive and customer-service oriented—that you want to provide the best experience possible to patients.
It’s critical here that you respond to both positive and negative reviews. You’ll want to prioritize responding to negative reviews because they can affect your online reputation, and obviously, too many negative reviews can be a red flag for prospective patients. Best practice is to respond to all negative reviews and 20 percent of positive reviews.
#4—Engage Negative Reviews
Negative reviews and low star ratings can harm your practice’s SEO value on searches. Thus it’s important to respond quickly and professionally. Acknowledge the patient's concern, apologize, and ask them to take the discussion offline by sharing an email address or phone number. Keep it short and sweet. Patients expect practices to respond to negative reviews and studies show that 33 percent of reviewers will go back and change a negative review into a positive one when the business responds to their complaint.
#5—Stay HIPAA Compliant in Responses
In your responses to negative reviews, be sure you don’t include information about the patient’s health condition, diagnosis, treatment, or their protected health information (PHI). You want to make sure all your responses are compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). That’s why it’s important to ask the person if you can take the conversation offline by leaving a practice number or email address.
#6—Use Review Response Templates
Because neither you nor your staff has the time to write a unique response to every online review, it’s best to create a set of response templates for a variety of positive and negative reviews. A best practice is to have at least 10–15 response templates. They help your staff stay on message, keep HIPAA compliant, and respond more quickly and easily. Using templates will save your staff significant amounts of time each month while ensuring that at the very least, every negative review gets an appropriate response. For a set of example templates, visit our online review management guide.
An Online Review Management Tool
Since managing your online reviews can be a heavy lift, especially for small- to medium-sized practices, the most efficient and cost-effective way to keep on top of your reviews is with a reputation management solution. It automates the process of collecting, monitoring, and responding to reviews. Such a tool also provides a dashboard for you to analyze trends and review sentiment, track competitors, and get actionable takeaways to optimize your online reviews. A reputation management tool can help you get more 4-and 5-star reviews that will help you grow your patient pool and expand your practice.
For more about how you can leverage online reviews to give your patient acquisition a significant boost, download the guide, “Online Review Management: Top Hacks to Get Your Practice More 5-Star Reviews and More Patients.”