How healthcare providers can attract and engage patients by managing reviews and social feedback

Are your website and patient feedback systems optimized to attract and engage patients? If not, you’re losing business to your competitors.

A survey of U.S. healthcare consumers by Reputation.com, for example, shows just how much these reviews affect consumers healthcare decisions:

  • The majority (82 percent) used online reviews to help them evaluate a healthcare provider.
  • Most (68 percent) chose one provider over another provider based on ratings and reviews.
  • Eighty percent wanted to read six or more reviews before selecting a provider.
  • Most physicians (77 percent), however, have no reviews posted on Google, which is the number one resource consumers use to find a physician.

If you’re still developing your strategy for managing patient reviews and feedback, here’s a checklist of best practices:

Ask All Patients for Reviews

Reviews are integral to consumers’ healthcare decision-making process, so you want to make it as easy as possible for patients to leave comments on review sites like Google and Healthgrades and social channels like Facebook. For best results:

  • Check that search engines and review sites have your physicians and clinical locations consistently and accurately listed. This ensures patients can easily find you and read information about your practice.
  • Set up processes to capture reviews from all patients right after an encounter or discharge. They will be more likely to respond if you ask them when you are still top of mind. Higher volumes of patient feedback posted within the past six months improve SEO performance. In addition, when you collect a large sample size of reviews, the few negative ones will have less impact.

Develop a Comprehensive Response Program for Managing Online Reviews

Many organizations have dozens of locations and hundreds of practitioners, making it extremely challenging for them to manually manage so many online reviews and social posts. To efficiently handle this task, consider using a centralized dashboard tool — at a minimum — or an online reputation management (ORM) solution for better results. An ORM solution can automatically manage reviews, customer surveys, social media engagement and sentiment analysis to deliver actionable insights and competitor comparisons. For best results:

  • Categorize feedback quickly.
  • Respond within 24 hours when people bring up suggestions or specific issues.
  • Address all negative reviews.
  • Thank or acknowledge at least 20 percent of positive or neutral reviews.

In all cases, be absolutely sure to respect patient privacy and avoid sharing any protected health information. It’s important to set up a process with the help of your practice or health system’s legal team to agree on appropriate language for online responses and to identify when patient responses should be taken off line for follow up.

Share Online Patient Feedback for Trust and Transparency

Sharing online patient feedback on your website builds patient trust and goodwill. It also creates transparency and accountability. For best results:

  • Stream online reviews directly to your website; an ORM system can handle this automatically for you. The benefits of streamed reviews are two-fold. First, it will give your locations’ web pages an SEO bump and further increase “findability.” Second, site visitors will stay engaged for longer and can feel confident making decisions directly on your site, leading to higher conversion rates.
  • Give your organization a more human feel. Each clinical physician should have online persona that’s both professional and personable. Avoid using highly clinical terms and medical jargon to describe their backgrounds and specialties. Photos, short video interviews and bios written from a personal perspective can build a relatable online presence. If using an ORM, you can automatically stream patient reviews to physicians’ profile pages.

Attract and Engage Patients With a Better Strategy for Managing Feedback

Hospital systems and physician practices have an enormous opportunity to attract prospective patients and create stronger relationships by adapting to the way that people navigate and interact with today’s online world. Assessing your progress against this best-practices checklist will significantly improve your organization’s online reputation and support sustainable growth.

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About Lindsay Neese Burton:

Lindsay Neese Burton is healthcare marketing director for Reputation.com. She spent more than a decade as a healthcare marketer at large Academic Medical Centers in the Southeast focused on developing marketing strategies for consumers and referring physicians. Now as part of the Reputation.com team, Lindsay helps healthcare organizations create digital marketing strategies and leverage online patient feedback to meet their goals.

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