Managing Your Healthcare Practice’s Reputation: Best Practices for Online Reviews and Patient Feedback
Many find the idea of visiting the doctor or hospital frightening, which is why they often search online forums and review sites to find the best medical facilities. What do you find when you search review sites like Google for your practice? Is there a swath of positive reviews or barely anything?
Online and physical reputation matter to patient decisions, and they should matter to healthcare facilities for that reason alone. One of the most effective tools a patient has to determine if a hospital or practice is worth their time is patient reviews, which means your practice needs to focus on cultivating them.
Understanding the Importance of Healthcare Reviews
Regardless of the business sector, clients and customers all begin their search for new services and providers online. Google and other review sites are part of the social fabric and are known as excellent and trustworthy research tools. The trust comes from their authority, developed over decades in business.
While a medical practice may have decades under its belt, it needs to review its digital age and footprint. Many private practices, similar to small businesses, avoid a digital presence because they believe it unnecessary; that said, consumers do not feel the same way.
A business without an online presence and positive reviews does not stand a chance in the current marketplace, especially if they want to do more than just survive. An online presence leads to exposure, which garners attention, growth, and feedback, allowing prospective patients to see if a practice or facility deserves their patronage.
Collecting Reviews as Social Proof of Reputation
One concern many medical practices or professionals have about a digital presence and reviews, especially the sharing of patient reviews, is remaining HIPPA compliant. The strict regulations protecting patient privacy carry hefty penalties for violations. Thankfully, a review of a practice, professional, or facility has nothing to do with patient medical records and therefore does not violate HIPPA laws.
Patients are responsible for what they share online, and requesting a review is within a professional’s right. The benefit of patient reviews is the sharing of unbiased and authentic experiences; they demonstrate social proof of a practice’s care, ability, and attentiveness. Ultimately, reviews are an institution’s or organization’s reputation and evidence that the brand is not an empty vessel.
Using Reviews To Improve Business Operations
It is not only possible but likely that among the reviews for a medical practice, patients will complain or make suggestions for improvements. While many of these complaints or terse reviews may not be written in the most constructive voice, they are all valuable to reputation management and organizational growth.
A hospital or private practice learns from reading about patient experiences. It is natural for a business to become biased to its own thinking, which tends to alienate many of its consumers and eat away at the company’s goodwill.
Acknowledging shortcomings involves eating slice after slice of humble pie and understanding there is always room to grow and improve. Most excellent reputations build from a place of constant improvement and evolution. When patients see a hospital or practice is willing to change or adapt to its patient base, they are more inclined to embrace the institution and open their minds to trust.
Responding to Patient Reviews (Both Positive and Negative)
Simply making changes based on patient reviews is not enough; a hospital or medical practice must also make an effort to communicate with its patient community. Staff should be willing to respond to reviews, both the good and the bad, but be careful.
Responses must be measured with little room for misinterpretation. For positive reviews, a simple thank you is enough, with a possible remark or two about the interaction. However, when responding to negative reviews, it is necessary to take caution.
A hospital can apologize for any misunderstandings, but apologies can carry repercussions. It is better to address the patient’s concerns diplomatically and avoid liability issues. Sometimes it is best to steer the conversation into a more productive territory by asking what the patient might suggest the hospital could do to prevent future problems.
Dialogue with patients shows that a healthcare practice cares about its patients. When done right, the communication builds trust and establishes a positive reputation for the business and brand.
Becoming Familiar With Healthcare Review Sites
While there are many healthcare review sites online, the top four include Google, Facebook, Healthgrades, and Vitals. Google is the gold standard for review sites. Every patient begins their search for a healthcare provider on the leading search engine in the market. It is crucial that hospitals and private practices invest in Google placements.
Facebook is one of the most popular social media platforms on the planet. Having an account and engaging in posting and communication is an excellent way to develop brand goodwill and reputation.
Unlike Google and Facebook, Healthgrades and Vitals are two healthcare-specific sites. Healthgrades has a user base of 7 million, while Vitals has over 9 million active users.
Online reviews and patient feedback make up the backbone of a healthcare practice’s reputation. Investing time and money into building a digital presence and engaging with patients is one of the most effective approaches to building a business, establishing authority, and cultivating trust.
Need Help with Your Practice’s Reputation?
My team specializes in reputation repair and review management solutions that restore your clinic’s health and competitive edge online. We offer robust reputation solutions that address your pain points and position your practice ahead of the competition. Contact us at (941) 909-1170 or schedule your reputation assessment today.
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