- Posted by Nigel Edelshain
- On February 22, 2016
- Online reputation management
Online reputation management is one of the biggest topics in hospital marketing today. Millions of patients are rating and reviewing their healthcare providers just as openly and easily as they do restaurants and landscapers, and millions more are using those ratings and reviews to choose doctors and hospitals when they need medical care.
Knowing what patients are saying about your hospital online is of utmost importance. Here are eight things you need to know about online physician reviews.
39 percent of patients look online for physician reviews… (source)
Physicians reviews only started to gain traction online in the last year or two. Only 16 percent of internet users said they’d read physician reviews in 2010, and only 17 percent said so in 2012. But that number has more than doubled since 2012.
…including 54 percent of millennials (source)
The review movement is even more pronounced among younger patients. Looking online for reviews is second nature for millennials, who use sites like Yelp and Rotten Tomatoes to make informed decisions about everything from dinner to movies. It was only a matter of time before they did the same with healthcare decisions.
With millennials surpassing baby boomers as a percentage of the U.S. population, review usage will only continue to grow.
60 percent of millennials share negative experiences with others (source)
Just as reading reviews is second nature for younger patients, so is sharing them. When older adults have concerns about their care, they’re likely to share them with their doctor. When younger adults have concerns, they’re more likely to tell someone else. As review sites count even more traction, those comments will increasingly move online.
Patients say quality of care is the most important information in reviews… (source)
It’s not surprising that patients would seek the information that would have the greatest bearing on their medical outcomes. Accuracy of diagnosis was tabbed as the most important factor they look for, followed by listening skills, explanation skills, delivery of treatment, and time spent with patients.
…but time, staff, and offices are the most common subjects (source)
Actual reviews are contrary to what patients say they’re looking for, however. In six million physician reviews on Vitals, the most common words are time, staff, and office. No matter how great the care provided by your physicians is, first impressions—wait times, staff friendliness, and office cleanliness—have a greater impact on ratings.
Coupled with the previous fact, this means that the ratings prospective patients see online might not reflect the information they’re looking for at all. But first impressions matter online too—and low ratings caused by administrative problems could be driving patients away.
Yelp, Healthgrades, and RateMDs are equally used and trusted (source)
With so many places to review physicians online, it’d be convenient for hospital marketers if one of them was used more or more trusted. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.
Twenty-seven percent of patients say they use Yelp to read or write reviews. Right behind Yelp is Healthgrades and RateMDs, each with 26 percent. And Vitals, fourth with 11 percent, still boasts six million reviews.
When it comes to trustworthiness, Yelp and Healthgrades were both billed as the most trustworthy review source by 26 percent of patients, with RateMDs right behind them at 24 percent.
That means if you’re monitoring reviews, you can’t focus on any one review site—you need a platform that monitors all of them.
44 percent of patients say they’d be willing to go to an out-of-network doctor who had better reviews (source)
Health insurance has always been one of the biggest factors in choosing a doctor. So if nearly half of all patients say they’d consider an out-of-network doctor with good reviews over an in-network doctor with bad reviews, reviews are a crucial factor—and review management a crucial part of your patient acquisition process.
Patients don’t only read reviews before choosing a doctor (source)
It makes sense that patients would check reviews before choosing a doctor. And that’s exactly what 61 percent of patients do—but the other 39 percent check reviews after choosing a doctor or to evaluate their current doctor. That makes review management not only part of your patient acquisition process but part of your patient retention process as well.