The Role Of Tracking Reviews In The Age Of Healthcare Consumerism

Lauren Parr is the co-founder and Product Director at RepuGen, one of the leading healthcare reputation management SaaS platforms.

The way patients choose healthcare providers has fundamentally changed. Today, online reviews hold immense power, influencing decisions almost as much as a doctor’s qualifications.

My company recently surveyed 1,426 patients across the U.S. from different U.S. regions and socioeconomic backgrounds to understand how they use online reviews when selecting healthcare providers. The survey found that 73% of patients consider online reviews when selecting a healthcare provider.

These findings coincide with other recent surveys that show this shift in healthcare consumerism. BrightLocal, for example, found that 50% of patients now trust reviews as much as personal recommendations, and they are more empowered to search and choose healthcare providers based on their own needs and preferences. In fact, they now rely on digital sources 3.1 times more than provider referrals when looking for a new primary care provider.

Additionally, a study of 1,000 consumers by PressGaney found that 1 in 3 patients says that not having enough reviews would discourage them from seeing any particular provider, further solidifying the importance of review tracking and management.

The Benefits Of Tracking Reviews

Understanding patient reviews is crucial for healthcare organizations in this age of consumerism. By proactively tracking online patient reviews, healthcare practices can unveil valuable insights and use the data to improve patient experiences, acquire new patients and ultimately build a strong online reputation.

1. Track And Respond To Reviews: Building Trust And Gaining Insights

Responding to reviews, both positive and negative demonstrates that you value their feedback and are committed to providing exceptional care.

Responding promptly and professionally shows potential patients you’re engaged and dedicated to continuous improvement. According to a BrightLocal survey, 88% of consumers would use a business that replies to all of its reviews. However, it’s important to keep HIPAA regulations in mind when creating your review responses.

For positive reviews:

1. Express gratitude and avoid mentioning specifics about the patient’s experience. For example, instead of saying “We’re glad you had a great visit!,” a simple “Thank you for your kind words!” is enough.

2. Showcase these positive reviews as testimonials on your website and social media. Reviews from happy patients can build trust and credibility, making you a leading choice for potential patients seeking care.

For negative reviews:

1. Acknowledge the patient’s concerns without disclosing any personal health information. Phrases like “We’re sorry to hear about your experience” or “Thank you for bringing this to our attention” are fine. You can then offer to take the conversation offline to address their concerns privately.

2. Apologize for any shortcomings in your care without admitting fault and explain any general steps you’ve taken or will take to improve the patient experience.

2. Uncovering Valuable Insights: Understanding Your Patients

Nearly half of all patients, based on the RepuGen survey cited above, base their healthcare decisions on the sentiment expressed in online reviews.

By actively listening to patient feedback and taking action, you demonstrate your commitment to continuous improvement. This not only translates into happier patients but also positions your practice as a leader in patient-centered care.

4. Boosting Your Practice: The Ripple Effect Of Positive Reviews

Positive reviews not only showcase patient satisfaction but also influence future healthcare decisions. Our survey also found that 83.23% of patients require a minimum rating of four stars even to consider an online review. Positive reviews essentially act as a confirmation bias, making it more likely patients will choose your practice.

Furthermore, high-star ratings can significantly impact your search engine ranking on platforms like Google.

Beyond search ranking, analyzing reviews can help you identify the features and benefits of your practice that resonate most with patients.

Effective Review Tracking Strategies: Tools And Techniques

There are two primary strategies for effectively tracking online reviews:

1. Building A Manual Review Tracking System

For smaller practices or those with limited budgets, a manual review tracking system can be an effective option. Here are some key steps:

• Identify key review platforms. Research which platforms your target audience uses most frequently to leave reviews. Popular options include Google My Business, Yelp and Facebook. You can use tools like Google Alerts to track mentions of your practice name on these platforms.

• Schedule review monitoring. Dedicate regular time (daily or weekly depending on your review volume) to monitor new reviews. Assigning this task to a specific team member can help ensure consistent monitoring.

2. Online Reputation Management (ORM) Tools

ORM tools are designed to help businesses monitor and manage their online reputation across various platforms. These tools typically offer functionalities like:

• Setting up alerts for new reviews across various platforms (e.g., Google Business Profile, Yelp, Facebook).

• Utilizing sentiment analysis features to understand the tone and overall message of reviews.

• Managing responses to reviews directly from the ORM platform.

Proactive Healthcare Review Management

Healthcare providers and marketing professionals, in particular, face additional regulations and guidelines when managing and responding to online reviews. Here are some specific considerations for the industry:

• HIPAA compliance: Always prioritize patient privacy. Avoid disclosing any personal health information in your review responses, even positive ones.

• Escalation: Develop protocols for escalating serious reviews (e.g., patient care or staff behavior) through designated channels.

• Transparency builds trust: Address negative reviews directly. Acknowledge shortcomings and craft steps to resolve the shortcomings. This will showcase your commitment to patient satisfaction.

The Future Of Healthcare Reviews

I believe the healthcare review landscape is constantly evolving, and healthcare practices should keep an eye out for emerging trends for better healthcare outcomes.

New AI-powered tools can streamline review sentiment analysis, allowing providers to prioritize responses and resource allocation. As telehealth becomes more common, healthcare organizations must adopt tools and technologies to capture virtual care experiences.

However, the core focus will remain on patient experience. Healthcare providers and practices prioritizing patient satisfaction and addressing feedback will continue to see a positive impact on their online reputation.

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