The resounding answer is YES – patients care!
But just how much can reviews sway a patient’s mind? We recently conducted a survey of 341 patients, asking them key questions about how online reviews and ratings for doctors impact their decision making process.
Numbers don’t lie …
Once the data was compiled we discovered that a decisive 72% of patients say that bad reviews prevent them from actually going to see a particular doctor. Moreover, when asked if positive reviews influenced patients to visit a doctor, 50% said yes. But just how many bad reviews does it take to discourage patients from a doctor or practice? Only 2-5 negative reviews out of 100 said 46% of patient’s polled. It’s difficult to argue with hard data.
We collected much more data than what is outlined above, and you can download it for free here. When we set out with our survey we had a hunch that patients were influenced by online doctor reviews from sites like Healthgrades and Yelp, and the data clearly supports our hypothesis.
So why don’t more doctors care about reviews?
It seems the only people not convinced of the worth of good reviews for doctors and medical practices are doctors themselves.
Why? Doctors don’t think patients are qualified to review the quality of care given to them in a medical practice – and to a certain extent they are right. Patients go to doctor’s offices for the exact purpose to find out things they don’t know from a medical professional. But that doesn’t mean they are not qualified to write reviews.
Most patients are writing about their customer service at a medical practice. People like to feel special and attended to. They want nice comfortable waiting rooms with low wait time and great magazines. They want free coffee, tea, water and the least amount of paperwork imaginable.
It is possible (even probable) for a practice to receive high ratings on a review site as a direct result of great customer service – not impeccable medical care. But a key mistake doctors make is to assume that those reviews are then worthless. Quite the opposite is true.
Good reviews, and lots of them, are key to generating new business for medical practices. That being said, patients also review a doctor’s bedside manner, cleanliness of the offices, kindness of staff and general efficiency of the practice.
How to cultivate the RIGHT online presence
Social media and online reputations are the new word of mouth recommendations for restaurants, bars, hotels and businesses – why wouldn’t the same be true for medical practices?
We live in a world with books written for private practice physicians – with titles like, ‘Establishing, Managing & Protecting Your Online Reputation – A Social Media Guide For Physicians & Medical Practices’ by Kevin Pho MD and Susan Gray. Dr. Pho’s book is a guide for doctors who need help establishing the right kind of online presence.
Patients know reviews matter – it would be a mistake for medical practices to not embrace the power of online ratings and reviews. Good ratings and reviews are not only the most powerful positive PR available to a practice, they can pay dividends for years … and best of all, they’re essentially free!
So how do you go about getting the right kind of reviews? You want to make it as easy as you possibly can for a patient to write a positive review. Why? It is a widely held concern that the only customer who will take the time to write a review once they get home is an unsatisfied one.
How can PatientPad help?
PatientPad makes it easy for patients to review your practice during their visit, when their positive experience is top of mind. Patients are engaged and delighted by the expediency of PatientPad. Not only can they write reviews but they can also check in for their appointments, explore relevant health information and apply for financing – all while promoting the practice’s online presence. PatientPad not only helps doctors build their reputation, it also helps improve customer service by cutting down on paperwork and increasing convenience. To watch a free demo of PatientPad click here.
Still not convinced in the value a positive online presence? Download our complete survey results below.