Over the past few months, I have made some changes to my healthcare providers. As a healthcare consumer, I have found that there are certain aspects I genuinely care about when making selections for my healthcare needs like the convenience of appointment making, an easy-to-use patient portal, and most importantly, the quality of care and comfort provided by the provider and their staff.
When it came time for me to make these changes, the first thing I did was research. I looked up providers in my insurance network and started reading the online reviews for each of them. I look at online reviews for most of the purchases I make and the places I choose to visit. From shopping on Amazon to picking a restaurant for dinner to looking for professionals for home projects or service, online reviews affect my decision making. So, when I was looking to change my healthcare providers, it made sense for me to go through the same process.
It turns out, I am not the only one that goes comparison shopping for healthcare providers. Online reviews are influencing how a lot of patients search for care, and that third-party validation influences 88% of consumers’ healthcare provider selection. Over 30% of patients say online reviews play a significant role in choosing their care while over 50% say they are willing to travel farther and pay more to patronize a practice with higher reviews. Online reviews are quickly becoming the first stop for consumers as they search for care.
When I was reading the online reviews, I was looking for a variety of things, including the overall patient experience, the quality of care, office accessibility, and the billing process. I was not looking for practices that had 5-star ratings across the board, I wanted to get a real picture of the provider which meant looking at other aspects like number of reviews, recency of reviews, the location of the business, and whether a business responded to the reviews (both positive and negative). When it came time to make my selections, I chose providers with positive reviews highlighting what was important to me. I even selected a provider that was out of network based on online reviews.
There are a variety of statistics that say the online reputation of a business influences consumer decisions across all industries, and healthcare is no exception. This means having a positive online reputation is extremely important in today’s digital age. Negative reviews are sometimes inevitable but providers that effectively manage their online reputation can increase exposure and revenue.
Managing an online reputation can be a lot of work and contains multiple tasks but responding to reviews is high on the priority list. Fifty six percent of patients say that a practice’s response to reviews has changed their perspective on the practice. Here are some steps to take when responding to reviews.
Every rating and review should be responded to, whether positive or negative.
Publicly expressing empathy for the patient’s experience with your practice goes a long way – both with the upset patients and others who may come next and see the review.
By responding to a negative review, healthcare providers can reiterate that they strive to provide high quality care and delight patients with a great patient experience.
Most of the time, the patient’s issue will need to be dealt with offline, especially if there is a risk of violating HIPAA. When responding to negative reviews, it is important to be as generic as possible online and then dig in to resolve the issue offline.