When choosing a healthcare provider, many consumers value online reviews of physicians. How can you make the most of this opportunity?
Many consumers have come to value online reviews of physicians, including endocrinologists, when choosing a healthcare provider. “Consumers like reading information about a provider that is both objective and subjective in order to make an informed healthcare decision,” says Brad Bowman, MD, chief medical officer, Healthgrades, based in Denver, CO. “This paints a more holistic picture of a provider and helps consumers determine where they want to book an appointment.” In addition, more people are sharing details about their healthcare experiences on these websites.
According to Andrea Pearson, chief marketing officer, Healthgrades, consumers make appointments after evaluating the attributes that are most important to them, including provider experience, patient satisfaction scores, quality ratings, and areas of expertise. Research conducted by Healthgrades showed that access to this type of information about a physician and his or her practice increases a consumer’s likelihood to schedule an appointment by 82%.
Maximizing your profile
Pearson says by having a profile on a website that contains patient reviews, a physician can reach consumers the moment they begin searching for one. “An endocrinologist can put their best foot forward as soon as someone makes a decision to see one, so be sure to make the most of your profile and keep it up-to-date,” she says.
Pearson goes on to say that websites with physician reviews help to facilitate discussions between providers and patients, which is foundational to cultivating positive relationships and driving transparent discussions that drive better health outcomes. In order to achieve this, Healthgrades added provider response functionality to its website, which is a tool that allows healthcare providers to comment on feedback given by patients on the site. “We give providers guidance on how to respond to comments online and how to maintain a patient’s privacy while doing so,” she says.
Handling a negative review
While a doctor may be hesitant to engage with patients on review sites, there are several ways to combat a negative review and maintain a positive reputation online. First, be responsive. “If you have cultivated an expansive and positive online reputation, you can combat negative feedback if you have a plan to address it quickly,” Bowman says. “Frustrated patients may not have a chance to connect with you in person about an issue they are having. If they voice concerns online, try to mediate them directly.” For instance, if a patient expresses frustration about wait times or leaving your office without a prescription, consider these to be opportunities for service recovery. Acknowledge that you have received the feedback and are willing to have a more comprehensive conversation offline about the situation.
Simply put, Bowman thinks the best way to combat a negative review is to be genuine in your response and aim to provide better service in the future. “While it is challenging to receive negative feedback that you disagree with, using review sites for a public and heated back and forth with a patient will not benefit your practice,” he says. “The more both parties are open to sharing and receiving feedback, the more transparent and effective the relationships between patients and providers can be.”
How to get good reviews
Commit to building a good relationship with every patient and investing time in managing your reputation online to attract new patients to your practice, Pearson advises. Once you have cultivated your presence online and developed a relationship with a patient, ask him or her for feedback-both in person and online. Let your patients know that you’re on Healthgrades and that many consumers just like them are using information on the site to make healthcare decisions. Encourage them to help others by writing their own reviews.