Written By David M. Williams | Chief Strategy Officer |
When was the last time you “Googled” yourself to see what your patients are saying about you, your staff or your office? Learn the importance of creating a proactive reputation management strategy.
Physician review sites such as HealthGrades, Vitals and ZocDoc have made it very simple for potential patients to find and learn more about you, your services and your practice. This convenience comes at a price as competitors and disgruntled patients can now anonymously post disparaging reviews or fraudulent information without the fear of repercussions.
No matter how nice your office looks or how caring your bedside manner was perceived, patients rarely post positive reviews. Instead, they post things like, “My doctor didn’t even look up from his computer during my exam”, “Don’t make an appointment here if you value your time, because they evidently do not”, or “Worst experience ever, sweet nurse though.”
So, how do you begin to take control of your online reputation?
The three steps below will give you an overview on how to get started.
1. Respond to negative reviews – The best course of action is to stop wasting time worrying about the negative reviews or attempting to have them removed. Instead, focus your time on responding appropriately when unhappy patients complain. Respond to the disgruntled patient in a timely manner both privately and publicly. Be empathetic and non-combative in your response. If the negative review is clearly abusive or fraudulent most review sites offer a mechanism to audit and potentially remove the offending post.
2. Solicit positive reviews – The best referral source is happy and loyal patients. According to the Harvard Business Review, positive company reviews can lift a business’s revenue between 32 – 52%. Each patient interaction should be looked at like a first impression. Your patients are coming to you at a time of need and expect a high level of compassion and guidance. If you and your staff believe you are providing your patients with a high level of customer service you should feel comfortable asking them for a positive review. After each patients’ visit, your office should follow up with a personalized email asking them for feedback on their visit. If positive, you should encourage them to leave a positive review.
3. Learn from patient reviews – Initially negative reviews can be painful, however there is typically some thread of truth in each review. Complaints about long wait times can be remedied through better scheduling and reducing the percentage of double booked appointments. You can also have a nurse transcribe notes during an examination to reduce gripes about an inattentive physician.Medical practices pay tens of thousands of dollars for consultants to help diagnose problems with patient satisfaction. Paying attention to your patients and proactively asking for feedback can be free and well worth the effort.
These types of reviews are not easily remedied. Prior to seeking out help from reputation management companies, ensure that you are engaging your patients through meaningful communication and providing an outlet for them to provide feedback. If you find online physician reputation management overwhelming or confusing, there are countless organizations available that can help (our company, LEVO Health, included).