What you can and can’t do, how to get them and use them effectively?
The facts you need to know:
The last 5 years has seen an explosion in online reviews. No matter where you are or what you do, patients can rate your services. And probably already have.
Medical practice online reviews, what you need to know and how to use them
WARNING – This blog is a worldwide reference point. Every country has a different governing policy and laws that will relate to what can and can’t be said on medical practice reviews. Ensure you follow your country and state guidelines, so you don’t overstep any boundaries.
This guide will give you a great starting point.
Are online reviews worth it?
Online reviews have largely taken place of word-of-mouth referrals.
Some companies have taken this a step further such as Healthengine in Australia and Patientfusion in the United States. Both these websites allow patients to give and see feedback and in some cases rate and review medical practices, and even individual doctors.
Screen grab doctor review from Patient Fusion website in United States.
What do the statistics say about online reviews?
An ongoing four year research study by Search Engine Land reveals:
- 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations
- 88% of people have read online reviews to determine the quality of a local business
- 72% said positive online reviews make them trust a local business more
- 39% of people read reviews on a regular basis.
Takeaway – People are clearly seeking and reading more online reviews to learn more about your practice’s quality, service and performance.
Implications – This highlights the need for your medical practice to attract more reviews and actively manage your online reputation.
Positive reviews are fantastic, while negative ones my be toxic and dangerous. Learn more on how to handle a negative online review about your medical practice.
Online ratings and reviews – Where and how can you get them?
You need to do 10 minutes of investigating as follows:
Step 1 – Google your practice name and your doctor’s names.
The aim of this work is to find out the most popular online review platforms that already have reviews and feedback about your medical practice and doctors – Make a quick list.
Some social media platforms already have review features built in such as Google+ and facebook. If you have Google+ and facebook use them as one of your review platforms.
(You should already have a Google+ account for the map location and boost it can give your practice’s website from a Search Engine Optimisation perspective).
Step 3 – Pick the top two or three review and feedback platforms that are most relevant and popular for your medical practice.
Step 4 – Explore your chosen platforms and map out the process that patients must follow to place a review.
You now have all the tools you need to start building some positive online reviews about your medical practice.
Ask your patients for reviews – Identify some key patients and ask for some honest feedback.
There are many pitfalls that you can fall into here – Follow this advice to avoid them:
Step 1 – Gauge what type of feedback you would receive from the patient in general about your services and practice.
Ensure it’s positive.
Step 2 – Narrow the conversation down to a specific topic – For example: service levels, friendliness or bedside manner
Avoid talking about anything to do with the treatment plan or outcome. In Australia this is essential as it can lead to a $5,000 fine.
Step 3 – Ask if the patient if they would be happy to put up a review complete with their photo about the topic you specifically discussed. A photo of the patient is essential, it makes it real and adds credibility. If you use them on your own website ensure you have their written permission on file.
Remember – Privacy is very important so revealing any confidential information must be avoided. Patients may only wish to have their first name and suburb where they live mentioned.
The best feedback is raw and honest and written in the patients own words.
Avoid paid reviews for reasons of transparency.
Essential tips for online review success:
Provide a feedback opportunity at point of service and at home:
Extend the chance for feedback beyond the your medical practice doors. At time of consultation it might be inconvenient to ask for feedback, or they may not have had time to reflect on their upon their thoughts.
Explore your options in relation to how best to capture feedback. A follow up survey via email may be a great solution.
How many reviews do you want to appear on your chosen platform per year? I ask most of my clients to set a goal of 10 reviews per year. Keeping the reviews current and up to date is important.
What information do you want to receive from your online reviews?
This gives your practice a great opportunity to explore areas for improvement and gauge how you are going in the eyes of your patients.
It’s best to have a standard set of 3 to 5 questions – One of them being:
Would you recommend <<your Medical Practice’s name here>> to your friends or family?
Not likely 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Definitely
If they score you a 9 or a 10 then they may be a great person to follow up.
If you want to be rated on a specific factor (this is the area you should focus on), put that specific item in the question.
How easy did you find <<Doctor’s name>> easy to talk to about your health?
Very difficult 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Very easy
An open ended question is always a good area to explore if a patient has any issues such as:
Are there any areas you would like to see our practice improve in?
Important note – Follow them up with a phone call and listen well, and let them respond fully without interrupting. If you uncover any problems I strongly suggest reading – How to handle a bad online review about your medical practice.
Many patients feel loyal to their healthcare professional and may be uncomfortable providing negative feedback. Online surveys, direct-mailers, and other nonverbal feedback tools can often provide more transparent and specific feedback that you can use to further improve your practice, especially if that survey tool is anonymous – A great way to do this is by developing an online survey through survey monkey and emailing the link out to the patient.
Manage them – Ask them to post the reviews on your Facebook page, Google+ or the platforms you identified in your earlier research.
Provide patients with the links and the process they need to follow to post reviews on the platforms you have chosen.
If you are posting reviews on your website ensure they are as generic as possible and more about service levels, bedside manner and communication. Stay away from any treatment specifics, revealing personal details (private information) and outcome.
It’s great to add how long the person has been a patient for. It can establish long term trust if they have been coming for a long time or even a very impressed first time patient.
Encourage people to read your reviews. Display a link or button on your website, Facebook page, Google+ page and anywhere else you have an online presence.
Remember the benefits
Quite simply, user reviews increase trust in your medical practice. They can eliminate any doubts potential patients may have about your services.
Poorer reviews can be valuable too as mix of positive and negative reviews helps to improve trust in the opinions they read. As a rule of thumb for every 10 good reviews it’s ok to have one that is not so fantastic. If the ratio is any higher then it could prove detrimental to your practice.
I hope you enjoyed medical practice online reviews, what you need to know and how to use them.
“These strategic tips have proven very useful for the majority of the practices we help.
If you have any questions please feel free to call me.”
David Douglas – Medical Website Solutions