Posted: August 10, 2017

Too many healthcare organizations don’t give consumer reviews the attention they deserve, often because their physicians are reluctant to embrace transparency in patient satisfaction. The reality, though, is that reviews should be a central part of your digital marketing mix. A recent study published by The Journal of the American Medical Association showed that approximately 60% of consumers surveyed report that reviews are important to them when choosing a doctor.

When you think about the way we all use ratings and reviews in our daily decisions, it only makes sense that our healthcare choices follow suit. If you are highly unlikely to visit a restaurant with a 2-star Yelp review, why would you make an appointment with a physician or at a healthcare facility with that kind of rating? And if you likely won’t buy a product on Amazon with no ratings at all, why would you choose a physician with no ratings over another with a good reputation?

Here are five ways to make reviews work for your healthcare organization:

1. Understand the importance of reviews in the health consumer’s journey. Consumer reviews can make or break your brand. Did you know that Uber drivers with a rating lower than 4.6 (out of 5) can get their accounts deactivated? That might seem like a pretty high standard, but it goes to show that only the very best will succeed.

Good consumer reviews can directly impact new leads and prospective patients to your organization. Understanding the importance of reviews in the health consumer journey will guide investment in reputation management solutions that will help you grow your brand and market share.

2. Regularly monitor your reviews. Keeping tabs on your reviews is a great way to measure performance and identify improvements in your processes and services to enhance your patients’ experience. It also ensures you know your average rating when someone asks. And, if your average rating goes down, solutions that allow you to continually monitor your reviews will offer insights into why, and what you need to fix. Lastly, monitoring your reviews allows you the opportunity to interact with your customers, especially the occasional unhappy ones. By responding effectively to negative reviews, you just may turn them into loyal brand advocates.

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3. Ask patients to leave reviews. Oftentimes, patients don’t even think about taking the time to leave a review, even if they liked their experience with your staff or facilities. It only takes a friendly prompt to encourage them to write a glowing review. Let them know that it only takes a few seconds to leave a rating.

Depending on your capabilities, there are various ways to ask for reviews. If you have face-to-face interaction, simply make it a habit to ask for feedback and provide information on how to do so after every appointment. You can also send email prompts or add in-app or website notifications.

As noted, you’ll likely also get some not-so-favorable feedback from time to time. The good news? The savvy health consumers you want to reach are actually skeptical of perfect ratings. They understand that negative reviews are inevitable and won’t hold it against you, especially if you’ve solicited reviews from your wealth of happy, satisfied customers.

4. Feature your good reviews and ratings everywhere. Don’t make people work to find reviews. Pick out some of your best reviews and feature them as patient testimonials. You can have blinded blurbs on the homepage of your website, feature them in your email blasts and even include them on things like brochures. Health consumers won’t just take your word for it — they like to hear what real patients have to say about the physicians and services they’re considering.

5. Be proactive, not reactive. Healthcare organizations usually ignore their reviews until they get a bad one. When you’re reactive to reviews, you have no control over them. Build a proactive review strategy by working to get positive reviews, and then work to make sure those reviews are seen. Then, the odd negative review won’t matter as much. Think of reviews as a marketing asset to grab the attention of new and prospective patients.

By working with your internal stakeholders—marketing, patient experience, public relations teams — and streamlining the review process, you aren’t just building brand awareness; you’re boosting your bottom line! Hospitals with high patient satisfaction scores report 50% higher contribution margins than those with poor scores.

Want to learn more about digital experience strategy and discover how your organization can improve consumer engagement? Request a free healthcare marketing assessment.