Reputation management has become a pillar of healthcare marketing.
In a previous post, we covered the important connection between online reviews and performance in local search. Moving beyond search, this post will focus on why it is important to monitor your reputation online.
Traditionally, new patients would be assigned to doctors by networks, insurers or referrals. These days, the vast majority of patients takes charge of the selection process and relies on reviews (online word-of-mouth) in lieu of traditional referral channels.
More prospective patients are aware of websites, like Healthgrades, Vitals and Yelp, dedicated to capturing reviews of doctors and hospitals. Consumer review sites are making an ever-growing impact on physician and hospital selection. According to a survey released by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), there are some interesting trends that should be top of mind for healthcare organizations and providers:
- 59% of patients say that provider ratings on websites are important
- 40% say review sites are important when looking for a primary-care physician
Of those patients who searched for a doctor online:
a. 35% selected a provider based on good ratings
b. 37% avoided providers with bad ratings
This evolution in patient-acquisition is a game-changer that will only continue to grow in the coming years. For this reason, healthcare marketers should be on constant lookout for best practices and improved tools to better manage their organization’s reputation online. And some organizations are slowly starting to understand the impact of reviews on their brand and bottom line. Here are some simple tips to start making reviews work for you:
Monitor online reviews: The first step in better controlling the conversation online starts with knowing what’s being said about your organization, brand, facilities, providers, etc. It would be near impossible to manually monitor all the review sites that exist today, but you can start by exploring a few review sites. Before creating a review acquisition strategy, take a look at the websites where your brand is mentioned. Go to Google and see which sites pop-up on the first page for searches like "your hospital’s name + reviews." Note that some platforms keep their reviews exclusive to their site, while others syndicate their reviews to other search engines. Here’s a look at how the local review ecosystem works:
Understand review policies: Policies can vary by platform. For example, Yelp forbids organizations from soliciting online reviews, while other sites have no problems with it. Here the guidelines for the most popular platforms:
Embrace negative reviews: In terms of responding to negative reviews, remember: they can offer a great opportunity to engage consumers and create a more favorable lasting impression. They can also be catalysts to improve physician performance and quality measures.
Work to generate positive reviews: One of the best defenses against negative reviews is a stream of positive reviews, so give your patients reasons to leave you some. You could verbally encourage patients at their appointments, send a follow-up email with links to review sites or your social media profiles, post a flyer in your physician offices or even offer a contest each month for anyone who posts a review. But whatever strategy you adopt, don’t try to collect reviews and upload yourself. You need 100% genuine, organic, patient-generated reviews.
Bring reviews in-house: Take control of the conversation, and maximize your success in search, by housing patient ratings and reviews directly on your website and provider pages. Influence Health’s Reputation Management cloud-based platform allows you to solicit and display reviews via customizable widgets on any of your web properties and includes a suite of tools to review, monitor, share and respond to reviews and mentions in real-time.
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1DMR Stats, 2016