Push your healthcare brand past competitors with a great review management strategy
Sixty-two percent of patients consider online reviews important or very important when making a choice in the healthcare sector. Reviews are extremely influential when you consider that each time a patient decides to come to your office, they read your reviews before making their decision.
Now that the internet is becoming such an important place for acquiring clients in the healthcare sector, physicians need to understand what practices they can and cannot use when interacting with current and potential patients over the internet. Make sure you aren’t caught in the dark by understanding the best online reputation practices for healthcare organizations.
Why The Internet Influences How Patients Find Doctors
As a physician, your online activity will be much more impactful to your reputation than in other sectors. The public might see a physician’s online behavior as a proxy for in-person behavior. If you’re not responding to reviews, they may think you are too busy or don’t care enough about your patients which could influence them to select another provider.
Now that patients are turning to digital resources such as local search, ratings, and reviews to find the most trusted healthcare providers in their area, there is more scrutiny towards what physicians are posting.
With the tremendous changes going on in healthcare, consumers are becoming more empowered and having more choices than ever. They’re applying the same behavior as shopping for all other local products and services. Whether buying direct or through their insurance company, there are plenty of choices.
Thus, after narrowing down to a list of options, they’re searching directly for doctors’ names and reviews online to make decisions. This is forcing the industry to engage and make sure every doctor has an online presence and reputation.
It is now your job to create content and manage your reputation online in order to maximize your visibility and increase the likelihood of patients calling. If done correctly, your office will excel in attracting new patients all while being considerate of current patient privacy regulations.
Navigating The Online Healthcare Space
This landscape of using online channels to acquire and engage with patients can seem difficult to navigate as it is relatively new to the healthcare industry. Here are a few of the best and worst practices you need to know in order to properly optimize for the healthcare industry.
Healthcare Pitfalls On the Internet
- Be Careful About Patient Privacy
Patient privacy is an integral part of a physician’s practice. That’s why your organization must be acutely aware of everything posted online. Otherwise, you can risk outing private patient information or violating HIPPA regulations. However, knowing what qualifies as a personal or legal privacy breach can be tough, and is nearly impossible to do on your own.
Thankfully, a review management platform alongside an expert support team with a speciality in partnering with healthcare brands can ensure you are writing effective review response to patients without risk. (Yes. We’re proudly one of them) Even then, it’s important to always have multiple employees checking on your profiles because anyone in your office could post something that could accidentally violate HIPAA regulations.
Healthcare is almost always a private matter which means if you’re interacting with patients over the internet, you need to be conscious of who else can see what you say and do. A good guideline to use is the Mayo Clinic’s Social Media Guidelines as a template for your office’s employees.
- Respond with Caution
Responding to negative reviews and comments about your business can be tricky. We suggest replying to the comment in a general way without acknowledging that the reviewer was a patient of your practice. Remember to keep it brief and invite the conversation offline.
Here’s an example of good and bad.Patient Response: “I had to wait three hours to be seen, and when I finally got into the examination room, Dr. X was rude and impatient. – Karen”
Legally Correct Response: “When scheduling patients, it is our policy to adjust the time with the doctor as necessary for that patient’s particular needs to keep our schedule on track. As a result of emergency situations, it is possible for us to be behind schedule from time to time. If you would like to talk with our management, we would be happy to talk to you more about the issue. Please give us a call at (555) 555-5555”
Illegal Response: “Karen, We apologize that you had to wait so long for your allergy shots. Please try us again.”
Why the first response was legally correct while the other was not? Let’s break it down:
The Legally Correct Response does not acknowledge that the original poster was a patient. Even though Karen essentially announced for the world to see that she was a patient, a healthcare provider still can’t legally say that to the public. It does however allow the doctor or the medical practice to give the public another perspective and explain the general treatment philosophy without providing any specifics of a particular patient.
The Illegal Response acknowledges that the doctor did indeed treat that patient, and even goes further with the clear violation by acknowledging the exact treatment Karen was seen for. Yes, even confirming treatment for something as seemingly minor as allergies clearly violates HIPPA and can get you in serious trouble. And while not illegal, it also loses serious points for its lack of care or compassion. A great patient care experience shouldn’t end once they leave the waiting room. It should extend to every touchpoint that a patient has with your organization.
Building A Great Reputation Management Strategy for Healthcare
- Get Listed On All Important Sites: First things first. You need to get listed, and where you get listed matters. Your healthcare brand needs to be on every major review sites — both those specifically built for the medical field and the sites designed to list any industry. Yelp, for one, has become an essential listing site for the healthcare sector. Even though only 6 percent of Yelp reviews are for doctors, physicians, and others in the medical sector, that still means that out of Yelp’s 127 million reviews, 7.62 million of those reviews are within the health sector.Other sites such as ZocDocs, Google, WebMD, and Healthgrades also have an extensive patient review base. You could be missing out on a significant amount of patients by skipping just one listing site.
- Keep Your Business Info Accurate: Having correct and consistent online listings information (name, address, phone number), as well as website and office hours, is one of the most important things your practice can do. Remember, the consistency of your listings directly influences your rankings. What does this mean? Inconsistent info will worsen your rankings and diminish your online presence. Avoid this by making sure all your business information is accurate and consistent across all sites.
- Create Great Content: Content is the main source of attracting and engaging with patients. It is crucial that your business has good, professional photos of you and your team as patients want to get to know you before they come in. It is also important that you tell your patients to share their positive experiences online. (Need to mention that you should list all the services that you provide!) A review management platform can help you request those reviews and instantly publish them on your site.
- Invest In A Review Monitoring Tool: Review management platforms can help you easily manage and respond to all your reviews and responses from one convenient location. This expedites your process allowing you to focus on what to say to each review rather than wasting time trying to find all your reviews.
- Have Clear Posting and Response Guidelines: Even though patient reviews and interaction are incredibly important to your business’s reputation, your practice has to be aware of violating any Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) laws or giving away personal information about a patient.Even if a patient of yours decides to disclose personal information online, you are still prevented from doing so without that patient’s consent. This means, even if the patient writes what they were being treated for, you still cannot respond to details about the treatment. Interacting with patients online has to be done with precision as to be compliant with the HIPAA laws.Here are some more ways to help you navigate responding to patients online.
Now that we have shared some key insights on how to properly manage the reputation for the healthcare sector, you’ll be more prepared to implement them in the right way. Unsure where to start or want to take your optimization practice to the next level? Our review management platform and incredible support team has helped small to enterprise-level healthcare organizations implement and up-level their reputation strategy.
Connect with Chatmeter today. We’ll give you a detailed overview of our platform and explore where your brand can accelerate your growth and patience care experiences at every location.