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A common concern we hear from doctors who are part of group practices is the feeling that the organization is not marketing them. It can be financially challenging for a healthcare system that has 10 doctors to market each provider individually, so instead, they market the group as a whole. That leaves the doctor who wants to build their own name in the community with the responsibility of managing and funding the endeavor. But it doesn’t have to be expensive. There is one marketing trick doctors can do to build their patient base and distinguish them from their group.  Patient review sites are an important part of any medical marketing strategy. Patient review sites have become the first place the majority (62%) of patients go when searching for a new provider (Software Advice, 2013). When a patient is searching for a specialist within a specific geographic region, the first page results have multiple listings of patient review sites such as Vitals.com, Yelp and Healthgrades. Take a look at the first page search results when looking for a dermatologist in Tampa, FL.

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If a prospective patient clicks on these sites, they are going to find the highest rated doctors for that specialty. It would be challenging to convince any patient to not select a doctor with a 5-star rating and instead choose one with a 1-star rating – or no rating at all! In fact, according to Digital Assent, 85% of patients are not comfortable choosing a provider if more than 10% of their reviews carry a 1-star rating.

To ensure prospective patients find the provider on these sites, practices must take the time (and it does take time) to create a listing on review sites that is both dynamic and consistent. Search engines like Google look for consistency in listings across sites when determining search ranking. Listings with varying information are considered by search engines to be less authoritative and trustworthy.

Choosing Patient Review Sites

Time is not something many providers have. Therefore they should focus on the websites most widely used by patients when searching for providers. According to a survey by Software Advice, the most popular patient review sites are:

  1. Healthgrades
  2. Yelp
  3. Vitals
  4. ZocDoc
  5. WebMD

It is equally important to consider the sites that are most trusted by patients. According to the same survey, the most trusted site is Yelp

Not yet convinced of the importance of online reviews? According to the University of Michigan and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, over a third of patients went to a physician or avoided one based on their rating.

To get started, providers should claim their free listing on the review sites they feel are most important to their practice and specialty. The information included should showcase what makes that provider stand apart from the competition. It should also highlight experience and areas of specialty. Once the listing is active, promote the site to existing patients and request that they review the provider on one of the sites.

Bonus Marketing Trick: Many practices find it helpful to create a business card that lists the top few websites for writing a review. They then hand out this card to every patient during their appointment.

Bonus Marketing Trick: One of the best ways to get a patient to write a review is when they are in the office for their appointment. You have their time and attention, so why not ask them to share their experience?

Standing apart from a group practice does not have to be an expensive endeavor for a doctor. Patient review sites are a (mostly) free way to ensure a provider shows up online. Concerned about negative reviews? Research indicates that only 10% of patients post on review sites and of these, less than 1% post negative reviews. When a negative review happens, don’t run from it, face it head on and respond rapidly and professionally and make changes as necessary to ensure your practice is doing the very best to deliver the best care possible. Want more marketing tricks and tips? Visit the MindStream Creative blog here.