Like it or not, the evidence is overwhelming: your online reputation significantly influences potential patients. According to a recent survey by PatientPop.com, which helps practices develop and manage their web presence, online ratings and patient reviews play a major role in how many patients choose their health care providers:
- 74.6% have looked online to find out about a doctor, a dentist or medical care.
- 70% consider a positive online reputation to be very or extremely important when choosing a health care provider.
- 59% said online reviews from other patients help them choose a physician or provider.
- 50% said information from search engines and other websites, such as Google and Yelp, are helpful.
So how can allergy practices stand out online? Here are some suggestions from the College’s Practice Management Committee:
Search for your name on all major rating sites, including Zoc Doc, Healthgrades, Yelp, Angie’s List, RateMDs, Vitals and Google. Also check the Medicare.gov Physician Compare website. Read through these sites to get a sense of how well you are doing and where there might be opportunities for improvement.
Monitor what others say about you – and respond properly to negative reviews
Sign up for one of the free social media monitoring tools, such as Hootsuite, Social Mention or HowSociable and have an associate review the results weekly. Or set up Google Alerts, which will notify you whenever your name or the name of your practice is mentioned online. Good reviews can be highlighted on your website (following HIPAA) as patient testimonials.
But what about negative reviews? The best way to deal with them is to focus on increasing your volume of positive reviews. Patients don’t expect you to be perfect all the time, and an occasional negative review can help your positive reviews seem more authentic.
However, when you do receive a negative review, it’s important to respond in a timely fashion. The PatientPop.com survey found 52% of patients who submitted negative feedback weren’t contacted by the practice to address their concerns. But when a patient’s negative feedback was addressed by the practice, patient satisfaction roughly doubled. That’s significant!
Respond to negative reviews in a professional, non-defensive way. Don’t argue with the patient or post any private health information online. Instead, offer to speak with them personally so you can address their concerns.
Use bad reviews as a learning opportunity, as they may reveal weak points in your practice. Reflect and think about steps you can put in place to prevent them from reoccurring.
Complete rating site profiles
Set up and maintain comprehensive medical rating site profiles. Many sites have errors and old data, so make sure your information is current and accurate. Be sure to upload a professional picture and include a short bio or philosophy of care on each site. Assign someone in your practice to review your medical profile annually for accuracy.
Ask satisfied patients to post reviews
Let patients know their feedback is very important to you and ask them to share their positive experiences on medical rating websites. Robin Panethere, marketing director of Atlanta Allergy & Asthma, recommends creating a card to hand satisfied patients that lists the most important review sites for your practice. The card can say something like “It has been an honor taking care of you! Please help others seeking allergy and asthma care by sharing how our practice has helped you or your family.”
Don’t leave your online reputation to chance. Use our tips and make sure it reflects positively on your allergy practice.