What is Reputation Management?
Reputation management is an important part of the online efforts for healthcare practices, especially in today’s world where patients have more access to information than ever before.
Reputation management involves the solicitation of ratings and reviews from patients after they visit your office, while consistently monitoring your online rating and reviews on websites such as Healthgrades.
Many practices today are also monitoring what’s being said about them on social media, since they know social media is the new word of mouth.
Although only about 10% of patients naturally post a rating or review about you or your practice online, unsatisfied patients are more motivated to complain, leaving providers who are not proactively soliciting and monitoring with an online presence that doesn’t reflect reality.
Reputation management is more than simply asking patients for reviews, monitoring ratings and responding to negative reviews.
Reputation management can make patient feedback the heartbeat of your practice and a way to ensure you’re providing a high quality patient experience.
Does Reputation Management Really Matter?
Glad you asked. In the internet era, your online reputation is your reputation.
It use to be that you practiced great medicine and patients came through the office doors. Today, patients have more choice and more tools than ever.
Regardless of whether a patient was referred by another provider or a family member, chances are they’re going to check-up on you online. And if they’re given a few different names, what they see about you can greatly influence their decisions.
It’s your job to ensure that the offline realities of your practice match the online reality these potential patients see. If you’re a great doctor, but a few angry patients post negative reviews and tarnish your online reputation, we can guarantee it will affect your practice.
In 2015, ninety-two percent of consumers read online reviews to determine if a business or medical practice is a good business. That number has been gradually growing over the past several years–76% in 2012, 85% in 2013, and 88% in 2014.
Forty percent of those consumers make a judgment call after reading only a few reviews. If the top two to three reviews are negative, they will be less likely to use the practice in question.
Imagine a patient has been given a few names of providers in the area.
The patient goes and Googles, “Dr. Smith orthopedic surgeon.” The patient is going to see at least four or five different rating or review site profiles for Dr. Smith. If the star ratings are low across the board or say the last two patient reviews were negative on profile the checked, patient is likely to have an unfavorable opinion of the provider or practice.
Now, if that same patient then goes to Google with one of the other names she has, “Dr. Jane Doe orthopedic surgeon”, and she sees favorable reviews across all of her profiles and there are plenty of them, the patient is likely to have a favorable opinion of the provider or practice.
Who do you think she is going to call or make an appointment with online?
Additionally, search engines such as Google give favorable weighting in their search engine results for practices with a large volume of reviews.
Up to about 50 total reviews, Google will increase the positioning of your listing in their search results for searches related to what your practice offers. The more reviews your practice has on its Google My Business profile, the more likely you’ll be to appear on the first pages of a potential patient’s search related to your practice.
Remember, it’s in Google’s best interest to show the best providers to patients and Google still drives the largest percentage of new patients to a practice.
While ranking the “best provider” may be subjective and your opinion of online ratings and review websites low, there’s high return on investment to reputation management.
Plus, they’re not going away.
Top Healthcare Provider Rating and Review Websites
As a healthcare provider, there are several sites you should be aware of when it comes to your professional online reputation.
Healthgrades is a website that allows patients to search for medical providers or hospitals to receive care. It’s also the largest and most widely used doctor review website.
In 2013, Healthgrades was the first stop for 43% of patients searching for providers. Healthcare providers can create free profiles that patients can search and review.
After seeing a provider, patients can rate them based on their care and can also leave reviews. When a patient searches for a provider, the provider with the best reviews and ratings are often listed at the top of the search.
Since it’s the number one site with patients, Healthgrades can’t be ignored.
Vitals is the second most popular healthcare provider review website. Almost a fifth of patients who use Vitals, do so to search for specific medical providers reviews.
A major difference between Vitals and other popular websites is that Vitals also allows patients to compare the cost of a provider or procedure to other options. This is a very valuable option since high deductible health plans are becoming the norm therefore, being able to compare costs is becoming more important in provider selection by patients.
Vitals calls itself “the most robust and accurate provider database” and claims that it has 90 million members. With such a large number of users, your Vitals profile is important to monitor.
RateMDs is another healthcare provider review website, similar to Healthgrades and Vitals.
On RateMDs, patients can rate a doctor for knowledge, punctuality, staff, and helpfulness as well as leave reviews based on their experience.
While not as large as Healthgrades and Vitals, about 24% of patients say RateMDS is their most trusted source for physician reviews. This is enough usage to convince any provider that should be paying attention to their profile on RateMDs.
Today, when a patient conducts a Google search for your name, Google displays information from your Google My Business profile on the right hand side.
Many marketers focus on Google My Business for its SEO value, but patients can see reviews left from patients when they search. These include reviews left on directly on your Google My Business profile and also, aggregated reviews from other website such as Facebook and Healthgrades.
Out of all the medical provider review sites, Google My Business reviews may be the most important to manage as a large majority of patients go to Google first when looking for a provider.
Facebook is similar to Google My Business in that it’s a website any business can use, yet so many patients are using the network it can’t be ignored.
It’s important for healthcare providers to carefully manage and monitor their Facebook pages because, like Google, Facebook reviews are highly visible since most patients will have their Facebook profile. Many patients are also starting to send private messages requesting appointments, something that would be missed by a provider not monitoring their profile.
Be careful not to use your personal page as your business page on Facebook. Instead, create a business page so patients aren’t seeing your personal posts along with your professional posts.
Last, but certainly not least, there’s Yelp.
You know Yelp. You hate Yelp. You love Yelp. You want to Yelp about Yelp.
Okay, we’ll stop.
Yelp, best known for restaurant and retailer reviews also has a section for healthcare reviews and it’s heavily used by patients.
Again, because Yelp is such a large review website, it’s important for healthcare providers to monitor their profiles on the site.
Patients leave reviews based on their satisfaction with you as the provider, your staff, and the care they receive. You know, they Yelp.
How to Ensure a Positive Online Reputation
Ensuring you protect your professional reputation requires a plan. Here’s one to get your started:
The best way to prevent negative reviews from damaging your online reputation is to solicit reviews from all your patients. This is because the only way to minimize the effect of a negative review is to have lots of positive ones coming in afterwards.
Unhappy patients are more likely to leave a review online naturally, but when asked happy patients are more than willing to will leave reviews as well. In fact, a recent survey stated 90% of people asked to leave a review did so.
To solicit reviews, there are several different methods you could try.
- First, ask for a review in-person at your office. This could be the best time to ask for a review because when patients are in your office, the care they just received is at the top of their mind. You could have patients either fill out a review on their mobile phone or you could place tablets in convenient locations, so they can post a review as they leave.
- Second, you could ask for ratings and reviews via paper forms that patients could fill out in the office or at home (and mail in). This works especially well if your patients are older, don’t want to post feedback online or you could also hand out business cards with a link on them to review the practice, so the patient could leave a review from home later on that day.
- Sending follow-up emails or text messages after the patient visits your office is another great place to solicit reviews. At the end of the email or text message, include a link for them to post a review about their care.
Another option, which we recommend to all practices, is to automate the solicitation of reviews using review software such as RepCheckup.
Software solutions can solicit reviews from patients via email or text message after their visit without having to manually ask or transcribe the review. This ensures that you or your staff do not forget to ask and every patient gets an opportunity to participate.
Remember, the best way to fight the potential for negative reviews is to constantly be receiving new positive ones.
Implement a rating and review profile monitoring strategy
It’s important to keep track of what your patients are saying about you.
Combing the internet to find any mention of your name and reviewing multiple profiles can take hours–hours you don’t have.
That’s where reputation management software such as RepCheckup from InboundMD comes in handy. Monitoring your online reputation for you, saving you the time and hassle.
Create approved responses to positive and negative reviews
Monitoring reviews isn’t enough to ensure a prolific online reputation. It’s also important to recognize patients by responding to both positive and negative reviews.
Instead of crafting an individual response to each and every review, create a boilerplate response for positive reviews and another for negative reviews.
This makes responding easier, more efficient and also allows other staff members to post responses for you.
Responding to Negative Reviews
Negative reviews from patients are going to happen.
A few patients will get upset no matter how you treat them or blame all health and insurance related issues on you. These are the patients that will leave negative reviews, and it’s important to respond to them promptly.
In your response, never get upset and never reveal patient health information.
The internet is not the place to get into arguments with patients. Keep your response cool and neutral with no inflammatory language. Also, your responses should not include any specifics about the patient or their condition, in order to comply with HIPAA.
The best advice we can give anytime a negative review occurs is to take it offline.
Instead of continuing the conversation on the review site, respond to the review with something like:
“We strive to provide the best patient care in all situations. We’re sorry to hear about your disappointment and want to help. Please contact us at 1-800-999-9999, so we can discuss your situation and what can be done to improve it, immediately. Thanks, Dr. Mike Mustache.”
In most cases, addressing the review in this manner and handling the matter offline results in the patient removing the review or changing the tone.
Other Uses for Online Ratings and Reviews
Reviews are an important part of your online reputation, but they’re also useful for marketing as well.
Hearing how great your are from you or your staff is one thing – hearing from other patients how great you are is another.
You can use positive patient reviews on your website, as part of social media graphics, and in videos you post online in order to provide “social proof” to your excellence and build trust with new patients.
Summing Up Online Reputation Management
Is your online reputation working for or against you?
Patient reviews play an important role in how other potential patients view you and your practice.
Creating a good reputation management strategy can make the difference in a positive online reputation or a negative one.