Reviews Sites

Why it is important for Physicians to be active on review sites…

Today’s healthcare economy is increasingly patient-centric; the ideal of the “empowered patient” is slowly becoming a reality. It’s no surprise, then, that patients are being proactive in researching before selecting their doctors.

By now, most of us are accustomed to online reviews. You might check out Yelp to find a highly rated restaurant nearby or read reviews of products you’re thinking about buying on sites like Amazon. Maybe you even write online reviews yourself. But what about online sites that rate health care providers? Are you – or your patients – familiar with these sites? And how important are they to doctors and patients?

A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that about two-thirds of the general public are aware of online physician rating sites like Vitals or Health Grades. You are most likely being looked up online before being chosen as a provider.

 

Here’s what I have learned about patient behavior and why it’s important to be aware of your reputation on review sites.

  1. You must exist…. Sounds funny, but if there are no reviews of you as a physician, how will a patient find you in the first place? Many review sites search through physician directories and create profiles for you based on publicly available information such as your name and your practice address. It very likely you have an on online presence whether you know it or not. Check the most popular review sites to make sure you’re listed, and if you are, that your information is correct. If a profile exists for you, you can often “claim” it to update the information or contact the site to add or update your profile.

 

  1. Once you have an online presence, make sure that you focus your efforts on the review sites that matter most. The internet hosts a lot of review sites, but over 80% of your patience will check one of these most common sites; Yelp, Healthgrades, Vitals, ZocDoc, and WebMD. Yelp is one of the most commonly used review sites and probably the one you should put as your number one focus. Reviews are hard to get changed or deleted once they are posted on yelp so make sure you monitor your yelp reviews daily. Also, be mindful of trends; a new site may pop up that gains popularity quickly, so make sure you periodically check for the most commonly used review sites.

 

  1. Ask your patients for reviews. Some will take it upon themselves to review you, but others may need a reminder that their opinions matter, and that you would love their feedback. It may take a few months for the reviews to start adding up but once they do, it’s important to read them and also to thank them for their efforts.

 

  1. Monitor your reviews. The reality is that you won’t make everyone happy. It’s all the more reason to look over your reviews and respond to both positive and negative comments. This shows that you are engaged with your patients and actively working on improving your service and practice.  This extra step of interaction may even lead your patient to update a negative review with a positive one. Sometimes you may get a bogus review. If that happens you can always reach out to the review site’s customer service and put in a request for removal.

Regardless of how accurate these sites are, doctor rating sites can influence which health care provider a patient chooses. The more reviews you have, the more you will organically show up first on online searches. If you are looking to expand your practice or have more control of your public professional reputation, it is very important to be proactive in asking for and monitoring your reviews. I would even go as far as occasionally googling your name and checking out what comes up.  The internet can have a huge impact on your business but as long as you monitor your online presence, you will be a step ahead of the rest and be doing your professional reputation a great service.

 

  • Summer Gilbert | Director of Marketing | Pacific Companies Inc.