Online reputation is as important as a healthcare provider’s track record of delivering excellent patient care. In some instances, online reputation even supersedes the latter.
With a growing number of the modern patient population turning to the Internet for almost everything they need, including healthcare, the online reputation of medical practices and providers is a delicate status that needs constant work and strategic management. Otherwise, a minor misunderstanding can become a major disaster due to a modern patient’s power with online reviews and rating systems.
We have prepared a guide for independent medical practices that helps manage their online reputation. Read on and learn our top 6 tips for building a better reputation online.
Know Your Audience
Appreciating the need to manage and improve your online reputation requires, first, identifying your modern patient population. A disregard will only leave you far behind in modern times.
With an estimated 72.26 million in the United States in 2020, Millennials, born between 1981 and 1996, account for a vital share of modern patients. They are the most significant portion of the living population in the US, and they grew up with the Internet. From this information, it is safe to say that modern patients are more accustomed to being “connected” and communicating via email and social media.
A modern patient’s lifestyle is mobile. The advancements in information technology allow them to accomplish their tasks, shopping, or business via their computers or smart gadgets. They now even work from home or anywhere else in the world.
Because they are so used to the Internet, they actively turn to it to seek out information on symptoms if they feel sick. They also read about remedies, look at reviews and ratings of different healthcare providers, and make active health decisions based on their search results. With modern patient populations already online, it should matter for every medical practice to pay attention to their online reputation and understand how to present themselves to their patients.
Focus on Building Better Patient Engagement
It’s hard to market medical practices online without a parallel patient engagement strategy that guarantees satisfied patients. Similarly, it’s difficult to expect patients to give reviews or talk about how pleasant their patient journey was without experiencing it in the first place. In other words, a medical practice’s online reputation can only reflect what they offer and serve their patients in reality.
To gain a better chance of gaining positive reviews and improving online reputation, it is vital that medical practices first ensure that patients have a satisfying healthcare experience. When physicians and front office staff work together to give customers the best patient experience, they’re more likely to earn 5-star ratings from their patients.
For example, a convenient and pleasant first encounter with your practice gains you a positive first impression. Patients value an easily accessible and timely process of booking appointments online. A streamlined, paperless patient intake procedure also saves patients from the dreadful experience of long waits at your office while you process their information.
If you successfully sustain the positive experience throughout the patient engagement journey, from booking to treatment and follow-up, a high rating or a 5-star review is in order, especially when you master a way to ask for it politely.
Respect the Power of Reviews and Ratings
Online reviews and ratings play a pivotal role in marketing a medical practice or health organization, essentially building its reputation. A 5-star review or the highest rating a clinic may acquire creates ripples that a marketing strategy of high-quality care and satisfied patients alone cannot muster.
For example, a recent survey reveals that 54% of online shoppers read reviews for everything they purchase, and 88% of online shoppers read at least three reviews before buying. This trend is also valid for patients looking for a medical provider or practice. Having plenty of positive ratings helps healthcare organizations attract more clients than those who don’t.
For patients, online reviews help them learn about healthcare providers. Patients prefer medical practices with many positive reviews and consider them more reliable than those without reviews, or worse, negative reviews. The same survey showed that 39% of online shoppers said businesses with 100+ reviews are more trustworthy. Positive ratings increase a provider's chances of attracting new patients.
Disappointed patients are more likely to leave reviews than happy patients. Their bad reviews impact a medical practice’s reputation. Providers should leverage strategies that generate positive reviews to improve their online reputation and attract more patients.
Ask for Reviews
Managing medical practice's online reputation involves acquiring more positive reviews — 5-star reviews even, which can only come from satisfied patients. Patients are more likely to write reviews when practices successfully treat them and provide them the most satisfying healthcare journey, from start to finish. Patient engagement is at the heart of that, but some patients won't still leave reviews no matter how good your services are. You need to find ways to convince patients to leave a praise-filled review. Here’s how:
- Master the Art of Asking for a Review: It takes a lot of convincing and compelling for satisfied patients to leave a positive review. It is more fruitful to assume that even your most satisfied patients need further motivation to express their happiness and content by rating your service and leaving a review. We’re not proposing you force your patients. Instead, we encourage you to explore and exhaust how you can ask patients about their experience with your patient care at the end of their patient journey with you.
Feedback surveys and performance assessment questions work for some practices. They help improve patient engagement and services. Automated review collection services are an excellent choice for modern patients. Practices can send text reminders to encourage patient feedback, so they leave positive reviews.
- Respond to Patient Feedback and Reviews: Aside from improving your services by considering patient reviews, responding to feedback and reviews increases your chances of getting more positive reviews. If you happen to get a poor review, you can and should reach out to your patient to find out how you can remedy the situation and improve your services. Respond to their review warmly and tell them you want to make things right. This shows potential patients you care and may persuade them to visit your practice, even though someone else did not have the best experience. It also helps you correct the bad experiences of other patients who might have had similar experiences.
Become a Thought Leader
If online reviews and ratings are not enough to boost your growing practice, becoming a thought leader and increasing your online presence is your next move. The first way to achieve this is with a website. A healthcare website should highlight the services, specialties, and values that make your practice a good choice for new patients.
Starting a blog also increases the online presence and allows practices to speak directly to patients through topics relevant to patients’ lives. You can reach more audiences by offering your high-value blog content to other patients through email marketing, increasing your online reputation. Emails give a professional touch to your marketing strategies.
Social media channels are also a suitable venue for building your online reputation. Social media activities like regularly posting and sharing relevant content to engage your patients, and other audiences improve your authority and reputation. There are many different ways to improve your online reputation, such as webinars, putting out relevant video content on YouTube, posting blogs to other websites, or directly sponsoring ads. However, not all of these work for all practices with varying circumstances and situations. So, only choose what fits your resources, intention, and capacity.
Online reputation matters to a modern patient population. Managing your healthcare provider's online reputation takes you to new heights in delivering healthcare and keeping your business going and succeeding. Acknowledging the help of third-party software allows providers to complete the task with swift efficiency and guaranteed success.
Use a Practice Management Software
Fortunately, health information technology software is available to aid medical practices in implementing patient engagement strategies and patient review collection. For example, the HIPAA-compliant universal health messaging platform Curogram is a leading patient engagement software with premium features promising a unique healthcare journey for patients. Its secure 2-way text messaging feature allows interaction between providers and patients. Its streamlined online booking and patient intake process give convenience to patients.
Curogram also offers healthcare providers an automated system of asking patients for a quick review immediately after an appointment. If a patient gives a 5-star review, the system automatically asks if they’d like to share their experience on the practice’s Google business profile. The automated messages include easy-to-click links that make it more convenient for patients to leave a positive review in a few minutes.