Healthcare providers should actively support online reviews because they are meaningful and empowering for patients, and can be a valuable business driver.
Physicians are often apprehensive about encouraging patients to write online reviews. This is due to the understandable desire to protect their reputation from unfair or unwarranted criticism. But patients have a right to share their experiences, and in the age of the Internet, censorship is impossible. There are plenty of sites for online reviews, with many devoted solely to reviewing medical providers, like Vitals and HealthGrades. Patients have always found ways to air their opinions and experiences, but in today’s online world, those opinions can reach a much larger audience quicker and easier than ever before.
Patients are benefitting from online reviews left by other patients. In a recent survey conducted by Search Engine Land, 72 percent of consumers said they give the same weight to online reviews as they do to personal recommendations. In other words, people are relying heavily on online resources to make decisions about their healthcare providers. This is clearly an indication of patients’ growing trust in the quality of information found on the Internet. Because of this, there is every reason to believe that online reviews will soon surpass word of mouth recommendations in their importance for patients.
There are only three things physicians need to do to harness the power of online reviews:
- Claim and manage their online real estate
- Learn how to appropriately respond and address all kinds of reviews
- Actively encourage patients to write online reviews
By doing this, providers can leverage online reviews as a way to remain viable and competitive in the shifting online landscape.