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Patients are becoming more dependent on physician review sites such as HealthGrades and Vitals when choosing a medical provider. According to a Nuance survey of approximately 3,000 patients, more than half of millennials (mid to late 30s and younger) used online reviews to “shop” for a doctor. This has created a strong need for providers to actively solicit feedback from patients.

The verdict is still out on whether the majority of providers feel review sites hurt or help them. A common frustration felt by many is that many sites do not provide a way for providers to verify that they actually saw the patient. There is also the fact that some patients want things from their provider that are not in their health’s best interest. Another challenge is when providers are reviewed poorly for something that is outside their control.

One client received a negative review on a public site after the patient claimed their medical records were not released in a timely manner. After researching the case, we found that the records were actually sent several times and that the school they were being sent to was having an issue receiving them because of their fax machine. Yet it was the provider that received the negative review.

Knowing they need to collect reviews, many offices wait for the “happy patient” to ask for a review, but this strategy sells the practice and provider short. The vast majority of patients that review providers give a positive rating. There will be negative reviews, but if providers are actively soliciting reviews from ALL patients, the positive reviews will outweigh the few negative ones.

A best practice for doctors and other healthcare providers is to actively engage with all patients about their experience. The best time to capture a review of their experience is at check-out. A patient satisfaction survey can be created that allows them to quickly rate their experience while still in the office. Another option is to email short surveys to patients immediately following their appointment. Include a link to the practice’s Google+ page and ask patients to write a review on this site as well. One of the first things patients see about providers is their Google+ rating, so it should not be ignored.

By taking a proactive approach to obtaining patient reviews, healthcare providers can build a strong base of reviews that will help new patients choose their office over the competition. What are you doing to capture patient reviews?