How to Use Patient Online Reviews to Benefit Your Healthcare Facility
A few years back, business reputation was earned by word of mouth. Today’s business reputation still relies on word of mouth – just the digital version of it: online reputation.
Once you put up a business, your customers are bound to talk about your products and services. Instead of telling you, your staff or other customers in person, they’ll tell the whole world about your business online – through online reviews.
How Patients View Online Reviews
Online reviews of healthcare practitioners are particularly sought out by patients. Patients are increasingly turning to online reviews about healthcare providers, just like they do for other products and services.
Fifty-nine percent said healthcare provider rating sites are “somewhat” or “very” important, this according to a 2014 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
"Patients are increasingly turning to online physician ratings, just as they have sought ratings for other products and services," researchers said in the article "Public Awareness, Perception, and Use of Online Physician Rating Sites" published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
For years, the academic community and healthcare providers themselves have dismissed online reviews. But the rise of popularity of online review sites like Yelp has forced the issue of online reviews to the forefront. At the end of 2016, the Yelp platform generated a total of 121 million reviews, 6% of them about health care providers.
"After years of academic debate over the role and value of patient-satisfaction scores and reviews of health care providers, Yelp, the online powerhouse of documenting customer satisfaction, is forcing the issue," Dr. Vivian Lee said in the article "Transparency and Trust – Online Patient Reviews of Physicians" published in the New England Journal of Medicine. “Although this free and familiar platform can generate an impressive volume of feedback data, physicians do not always respond positively to the sudden exposure of sometimes negative reviews."
Other online reviews like Google can’t be dismissed. If someone searches your healthcare facility, for instance, Google reviews appear next to your organization’s listing in Maps and Search.
How to Use Patient Online Reviews to Your Organization’s Advantage
Dismissal of online reviews is a passive reaction. Some healthcare providers, however, take their reactions about negative reviews to the next level – to the point of violating patient-clinician confidentiality.
A California dentist reprimanded a patient who accused him on Yelp of misdiagnosing her. “I looked very closely at your radiographs and it was obvious that you have cavities and gum disease that your other dentist has overlooked. … You can live in a world of denial and simply believe what you want to hear from your other dentist or make an educated and informed decision.”
In Canada, the clinician’s confidentiality duty is both a legal and ethical obligation. Canada has privacy legislation that requires the consent of an individual before his or her personal information can be collected, used or disclosed. The Canadian Medical Association's Code of Ethics, in particular, requires physicians to protect their patients' personal health information.
Instead of dismissing, reacting negatively to online reviews, it pays to be positively pro-active in dealing with online reviews. Here are simple steps to claim and improve your healthcare facility’s online reputation and online reviews:
1. Provide Consistent Contact Details
One of the ways to improve your organization’s online reputation is by providing consistent contact details. Across different online platforms, provide consistent contact details, consisting of your organization’s name, address, phone number and website – collectively known as NAP + W.
By providing consistent contact details across different online platforms, Google can validate the information and include this data in its algorithm – giving your organization’s contact details and your organization’s website better visibility in its search result pages.
There are companies that collect contact details of businesses. Google and Yelp subscribe to these data providers. Google, Yelp and similar organizations also scour the internet for contact details of businesses and then add them to their databases. This explains why your organization’s contact details find their way to Yelp, YellowPages and other sites even if no one in your organization created a listing on these sites.
2. Solicit Reviews
Another way to improve your organization’s online reputation is to solicit reviews. While it’s unethical to solicit good reviews, it’s proper to solicit reviews. It’s an established good practice for businesses to solicit reviews in order to get valuable performance feedback for learning and improving. In the past, companies get feedbacks from customers by asking them to drop their written comments into a suggestion or comment box.
After every visit to your healthcare facility, send an email to every customer, asking them about their experience. The email soliciting a feedback is similar to the suggestion box. In the email, provide a link to top review site like Yelp for them to share their positive experience. If they’re dissatisfied with the service, provide a link that goes back to you and your staff. Some healthcare providers offer dissatisfied patients another visit at no cost to correct or remedy the situation.
By providing a link to a top review site, your organization increases your positive reviews. And by providing a link to your organization if they’re dissatisfied, negative reviews can be prevented. We don’t live in a perfect world. By inviting your patients to come back to your facility, your organization will have another chance to offer a better service. This also gives your patients an opportunity to voice out their dissatisfaction directly to you and your staff, instead of blasting your organization over the internet.
3. Provide Staff Training about Good Customer Service
Providing top-notched healthcare service isn’t limited to the clinician’s expert hands. Your healthcare facility will be evaluated by your customers, not just based on the skills of clinicians, but also by the service offered by other personnel in your organization – from cleaning personnel to the receptionist. It, therefore, pays to train your staff to do the best they could from cleanliness to being courteous to customers.
Customers won’t hesitate to give your organization positive reviews if they receive top-notched service from clinicians right down to the receptionist.
Need help with call quality screening and a complete review process automation? Give us a call today to get started and get more positive reviews.
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