A recent study from Pew Research sheds light on just how patients are using the Internet when making health care decisions. Seventy-two percent of Internet users said they have researched health information online within the last year. One in five Internet users perform research online before deciding which physician they want to see. Health care reviews, ratings and comments from patients provide abundant information for your potential patients. Researchers found that 87 percent of American adults have Internet access and 58 percent own smartphones. How effective is your online reputation? Is it attracting new patients? Consider the following steps to find out.
- Find out what your patients have access to. There are many physician rating and review websites. Find out the ones that list your office. Additionally, the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) maintain their own Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems. Other payers and insurers may have similar sites available to their clients.
- Take steps to improve your online reputation. Encourage patients to share their positive experiences online. Some providers do this via social media, a monthly newsletter or a blog.
- Don't ignore negative feedback. When you solicit feedback, expect to get some that is negative. Don't ignore it, hoping the positive comments will outnumber the negative. The best tactic is to resolve complaints before the patient has the opportunity to post something online. Have a process for resolving patient problems quickly. When a negative comment is posted online, make the effort to contact the patient personally to discuss it and encourage them to update their feedback.
- Make it part of your marketing strategy. Maintaining your online reputation should be part of your overall marketing strategy. Monitor the reputations of all the physicians in your practice. Compare their ratings with competitors. Discuss strategies for improvement.
Incorporate online reputation monitoring as part of your medical practice management strategy. Instead of viewing it as one more hurdle to overcome, view it as an opportunity to showcase the quality of care received at your office. Online ratings and reviews are valuable tools for attracting new patients and retaining your current ones.