Most businesses rely on reviews to help them grow. Today, leery customers flock to the internet to scour review sites before making any buying decisions. In healthcare, consumers are heavily relying on patient reviews when choosing a healthcare provider. Understanding what prospective patients are looking for is an essential element to any marketing strategy.

Three Patient Review Trends Every Doctor Should Know:

  1. Google is King – The number one site people visit to read reviews is Google. In fact, more than 63% of consumers check reviews on Google before visiting any business. What is neat about Google is that local searches will show reviews for companies in the results. This provides consumers with an instant snapshot of what providers or practices they may consider giving their business.

Here is an example taken from a search for pediatricians in Bend, OR:

pediatrician search bend or

And here’s an example search for medical marketing:

Medical Marketing search Bend OR

What does this mean for you? Make sure you have claimed your Google My Business listing. Direct patients to your Google business page when asking them to write patient reviews or share their experience. Occasionally create a social media post or send an email blast asking patients to share their experience. Include a direct link to make a Google review on your page. Instructions for creating this link can be found here.

2. Monitor Your Online Reviews – The majority of consumers (healthcare included) expect businesses to respond to their reviews within seven days, according to a ReviewTrackers survey. People often write reviews as another way to connect with the company. However, according to the same study, more than 63% of people are left without a response. While it is easy to thank someone for writing a positive review, negative reviews are a bit of a problem for some. They ignore it and hope it will go away. The thing is, 45% of consumers are more likely to consider a business that responds to a negative review than one that doesn’t.

What does this mean for you? Regardless of whether or not you are actively soliciting reviews, you must be actively checking patient review sites and responding to any reviews that are left. The vast majority (80%) of consumers feel that a business cares more about them when reviews aren’t ignored. And always take the high road when responding to a negative comment. Don’t get into a back and forth with a patient on a review site and never risk a HIPAA violation by confirming the specifics of their appointment. Thank them for their review and invite them to contact the office to discuss their concerns offline.

3. Consumers Avoid Businesses with Negative Reviews – While the majority of reviews that are written are positive, there is always someone out there who is dissatisfied. The emotions generated following a negative experience are more likely to prompt the writing of a negative patient review than following a positive experience. In fact, 34% of people who have had a negative experience say they are likely to leave a negative review. Thankfully, the majority of people try to manage negative experiences offline.

What does this mean for you? Negative patient reviews happen. Instead of throwing in the towel, encourage patients to write reviews with more enthusiasm. Negative reviews will be diluted by the more positive reviews that are written. The majority of consumers consider businesses with 4-star or higher for review averages.

Online patient reviews are only increasing in value. Take the time to cultivate a system that encourages reviews and actively monitor and respond to them. Need help? Consider hiring a medical marketing agency who specializes in online reputation management as part of their social media marketing plan. Check out next week’s blog as we dive deeper into consumer trends in online reviewing and how it impacts healthcare.