Patient experience has become an important piece for hospitals and clinics in the last few years. That's not to say it hasn't always been a focus, it's just that the experience a patient has can now be broadcast to millions of potential patients through sites like Google, Yelp, Healthgrades, and rateMDs.com. RateMDs.com, alone, touts over 2 million reviews and they are just a fraction of the 4 collectively mentioned. To compound the impact, over 77% of consumers begin their search for health care online.
With that said, it's safe to say that online reviews are here to stay for the healthcare industry. Therefore, medical professionals must ensure the hospital and/or practice harnesses any and every positive patient experience to share with the world through online reviews.
Improving Online Visibility
With a number like 77%, it's obvious that your hospital or clinic must have online visibility, in a positive light. In fact, "one out of three patients will avoid physicians after seeing negative reviews online". This is why it's so critical to first become visible, and second manage your online reputation. Both of these factors will be completely driven from the patient experience your team provides.
There are a few ways to turn patient experience into online reviews.
- Verbally ask for a review on the site of your choice
- Send an email asking about the patient experience and inquire for an online review
- Use a platform to collect online review sites that are in line with your industry (we'll get into which sites matter in the next section)
While all three methods are fairly easy, the first and second method are not recommended.
The first method is not recommended largely because it ends up being inconvenient for the patient. If you think through the situation it becomes obvious. The patient is verbally asked for a review on the site of their choice and then the patient generally forgets to leave the review. This can quickly lead to a waste of a positive patient experience.
The second method is not recommended for a similar reason. The average number of times a person checks their phone each day is 110. The average person also checks their email about 15 times per day. Assuming, at the most, 15 of those 110 checks are for email, this is not the most convenient way for patients to connect with you. The request for an online review could easily be lost and forgotten.
The third method is arguably the most convenient method for broadcasting your patient experience. As we pointed out in the last paragraph, the average user checks their phone 110 times each day. This provides an opportunity for hospitals and clinics to catch their attention while they are still in the practice or as they are leaving. Our internal research has shown that online review requests via text message have an average conversion rate (meaning they click to fill out the online review) of roughly 15-20%, depending on the industry.
Where To Focus On Collecting Online Reviews
When it comes to collecting online reviews, every vertical is different. One thing across verticals that is the same is the need to focus on the big 3. The big 3 is made up of Google, Yelp, and Facebook. It is crucial to have these 3 part of your strategy for the following reasons:
- Google - reviews can impact online search at a local level. In theory, with increases in quality and quantity, a business can rank higher in the map pack. In addition, reviews are represented by gold stars, which can help increase click-through-rates (CTR).
- Yelp - reviews from Yelp can also be displayed in Google local search results. Although Yelps reviews are not represented with stars within the map pack, they are represented as individual search results.
- Facebook - with nearly 890M daily active users, Facebook provides the opportunity for exposure. Although not generally seen in Google search results, business pages can be found on Facebook's platform allowing for more visibility.
Aside from the big 3, there are numerous vertical-specific sites for healthcare. A few of the most common are Healthgrades, RateMDs, and ZocDoc. It's important to share positive patient experience on vertical-specific sites like these. They can be the first results to show up when someone searches a term like "doctor reviews". If your hospital or clinic can be well rounded on various review sites, you'll increase visibility.
Patient experience has become top of mind for the health care industry. It's not that it wasn't important before, it's that the internet allows for good and bad words to travel. Turning a positive patient experience into an online review is relatively inexpensive way to increase brand trust online visibility. If one approaches online reviews correctly, they can acquire high-quality reviews on standard sites like Google, Yelp, and Facebook while complimenting those efforts with sites like Healthgrades, RateMds, and ZocDoc.
Lastly, it's important to ensure you have reviews on multiple platforms in order to be visible for the various search paths consumers might take when searching out doctor or hospital reviews. With 77% of consumers starting their health care search online, it's imperative for hospitals and clinics to take advantage of patient experience and collect online reviews.