How Do Online Reviews Affect Your Practice

Nov 7, 2019 · 3 min

Medical practices used to garner a reputation overtime by simple word-of-mouth, but nowadays, an online review can make or break a medical practice’s reputation instantly. It’s a harsh truth about the world we live in, but the same can be said about any type of business. Patients trust and relate more to other patients, so they turn to online reviews to connect with other people’s experiences in order to help them choose from which medical practice to receive care. 

Almost 75% of patients will first look at online reviews before choosing a new doctor, so it’s more than likely that your online reputation is a patient’s first impression of your practice.* But what exactly happens when patients refer to online reviews, and how does that affect your medical practice? 

If a patient is searching for a new doctor and utilizing online reviews, they are likely considering a variety of factors when reading the comments. Some of the top concerns amongst patients include quality of care, diagnosis accuracy, the physician and staff’s amiability, the provider’s background, ease of appointment scheduling, and in-office wait times. Reviews that contain any of these factors will likely influence a patient’s choice, so it’s helpful for providers to be aware of what matters most to patients.

Review sites like Healthgrades, RateMDs, and Yelp can greatly affect your practice’s reputation because, good or bad, a review written in a minute can stick with your practice for a lifetime. Unfortunately, there’s nothing to stop someone from complaining about their experiences on a review site, and despite your best efforts, the negative review is likely there to stay. Negative reviews can’t be ignored, and they shouldn’t be! A majority of patients believe that it’s important for doctors to respond to negative reviews, so ensure you have a successful response strategy prepared to acknowledge and rectify the complaint. 

Along with responding to negative reviews, it’s imperative to properly manage your profiles on these review sites in order to enhance your reputation. Appropriately managing your profiles is vital because it helps to protect from fake accounts taking over and can improve your search engine optimization (SEO) rankings. 

Search engines are designed to show the best results first, and as such they promote sites that accumulate positive reviews. Additionally, having your medical practice be present on third-party websites further increases your SEO and the increased visibility can enhance brand awareness, increase patient engagement, and bring in new patients.

Positive reviews not only help to improve your visibility to new potential patients but also help to incentivize patients to receive care from your practice. Positive reviews are so influential that one study found that about 48% of patients would visit an out-of-network physician if they had stupendous reviews.**

It’s clear to see how online reviews are essential to a medical practice’s online reputation, but how does one garner reviews? One of the easiest and most effective ways is simply by asking patients to leave a review; it may be nerve-racking, but 7 out of 10 patients will leave a review if they’re asked, so encourage your team to request reviews!*** In addition to asking for reviews, it’s beneficial to have links to the review sites on your website, ask for reviews via social media posts, and send email requests post appointments.

As a healthcare provider, your online reputation is crucial as it can control the success of your practice and dictate the level of trust between you and your patients. It’s essential for a medical practice to properly manage their online reputation and utilize the tools to garner positive reviews and respond to negative reviews. Remember, online reviews are inevitable nowadays; there’s nothing you can do to stop them, but you can expertly manage them to enhance your reputation, boost brand awareness, and augment patient engagement.

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