Like it or not, online reviews and comments are increasingly having an effect on patients’ decision making. Whether it’s with a specialist or primary care physician, patients are scouring healthcare reviews, ratings and patients’ comments to inform their decision. One in five Internet users has consulted an online healthcare review to decide where to go for services, according to a survey from Pew Research.

What are you doing to monitor your facility’s online reputation?

How you manage patient interactions and respond to both negative and positive ratings can have a significant long-term impact on revenue.

Patients have always had an opinion, but that opinion was limited to one-on-one communication like a letter, email or telephone call. Today, a patient can go online and communicate their experience or opinion—good or bad—one-to-thousands in real-time.

What you need to know if you receive a negative review:

  1. Don’t panic.

Patients are more concerned with the number of reviews, how recent and the authenticity. The presence of a bad review around good reviews or neutral ratings can actually validate your good reviews and make you seem more personal.

  1. Fix problems before they start.

The best way to garner strong reviews and keep bad reviews to a minimum is to “fix” problems before they start. Have a way for patients to easily contact you directly through several outlets—that way they will be less likely to feel the need to air their negative experiences or opinions online.

  1. Respond quickly.

Studies show that if you respond to a negative review quickly you have a 20 percent chance of converting the commenter into an advocate. Patients expect authenticity and use reviews as a way to connect with you. By “owning” the experience and acknowledging it you often generate a second chance with many patients.

  1. Take it offline.

The most important tactic is to get the conversation “offline.” Investigate the scope of the problem and address what needs to be done to remedy the situation.

 Quick Guide to Review Monitoring:

  • Check daily for new reviews. Consumers expect a response in 24–48 hours.
  • Read reviews. What are they saying? Do they suggest improvements; are they a response to unsatisfactory service? Are they looking for something, or are they venting about a particular incident?
  • Draft your response. Never draft a response in an emotional state. Write the first draft, step back and come back to the response after a break. If possible read your response out loud to another stakeholder.
  • Promote your best reviews across several platforms. Showcase great patient service internally for employee buy-in. Use several marketing channels to amplify reviews that focus on your mission statement or are key revenue drivers.

According to Nielsen, 68 percent of survey respondents indicated that they trust consumer opinions posted online.  What do your reviews look like? Do you have an action plan to respond to reviews? Do you have a consistent response and voice online? Contact us to talk about your organization’s plan and response to online sentiment.