Don’t just monitor online reviews. Improve them.
Buyer beware. And be very wary. Lots of firms want to sell so-called reputation management services.
Forget the complicated software that merely monitors rate-your-doctor websites. Ignore those fancy website dashboards that come with a fat monthly fee and leave the hard work up to you.
You don’t want to simply see patient reviews online. You want to improve them.
Who reads online reviews? Patients and search engines!
In a 2013 study, the accounting firm Price Waterhouse Coopers found 48 percent of Americans say they have read healthcare reviews, even though only half that (24 percent) said they had written such reviews. That’s approximately 150 million Americans who have checked out what patients say about their physicians.
In another 2013 study, the Pew Research Center found that 26 percent of Americans have followed someone else’s health experience online. That’s nearly 80 million people.
These are reasons that search engines pay close attention to online reviews of physicians and medical practices: it’s because people pay attention to them.
As an example, see what happens when you Google the name of an actual doctor. Notice all the stars in the page-one search engine results? Those are from patient reviews.
Earning good patient reviews ethically
Virtually every business has dissatisfied customers. Our difference is a three-prong management strategy:
- We help each client practice deal privately with unhappy patients. Our special technology surveys and screens for complainers first, before they go online to post public criticisms. Secondly, we work with the practice management to resolve their complaints constructively.
- We respond quickly and politely to online complaints when they do occur. Every consumer expects to see one or two complaints about any business. What’s less important is any single complaint than how the business responds – which should be promptly, respectfully and constructively. Depending on several circumstances, some responses on behalf of the practice are public, while others are private.
- We encourage and grow online praise. Happy patients are less likely to comment publicly than unhappy ones. We can fix that. Through our own specialized technology – along with tried-and-true methodology for improved patient service and communications – we can increase the ratio of good to bad reviews dramatically. See the case study at the top of this page for an example.
Eight steps to improving doctor ratings
As part of Vanguard’s online reputation management program, we optimize, monitor and manage the most popular rate-your-doctor websites for client practices, including Yelp, Google, HealthGrades and RateMDs. Here’s how:
- We claim and consolidate accounts on third-party websites (Yelp, Google, etc.) for each medical practice, allowing us to manage the practice’s identity and respond to public postings.
- We monitor patient reviews daily on these and other sites.
- We immediately alert a client of any critical review when it is posted.
- We draft an immediate response for the practice’s review before posting on the website where the criticism appeared.
- We deploy a highly advanced online patient satisfaction survey that uses proprietary computer coding to screen for the happiest and unhappiest patients. Each group is then managed wholly differently.
- We help the practice promote the post-appointment survey in its offices, helping garner more responses from more patients. This identifies the complainers in order to address their concerns privately before they go online to vent. The survey also identifies the happy patients and encourages them to post a review online.
- We provide additional feedback mechanisms on each client’s website to encourage private complaints and public praise.
- We provide each practice with reputation-management training and support designed to boost overall patient satisfaction.