THE IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON THE HEALTHCARE INDUSTRY

The healthcare industry was impacted by the pandemic in several ways. First and foremost, they’re on the frontline risking their lives to save ours. Secondly, the healthcare industry as a whole was faced with the challenge of closing non-essential locations all while keeping patients informed of how and where to receive essential care when needed. Here’s a look at reputation’s role on healthcare during the Coronavirus pandemic. 

LOCAL BUSINESS LISTINGS

The healthcare industry saw both web traffic and foot traffic decline during the pandemic as shown by a decrease in both Google My Business (GMB) website visits and driving direction requests. From March to April, we saw over a 30% decrease in both those GMB actions. Phone calls on the other hand increased by over 50% from February to March. Phone calls outperformed any other action on GMB listings for healthcare businesses throughout the next three months as many patients took the advice of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and called their doctor before choosing to visit in person. 

BRAND REPUTATION

At the time this data was taken, the height of COVID-19 cases in the US occurred during the months of April and May. This is why we see review volume fall 87.19% between February and April as many healthcare organizations closed non-critical locations in order to prioritize treating COVID-19 patients. We saw review volume plateau during the height of COVID-19 cases as many people chose not to risk a doctor visit for non-life-threatening illnesses.

Healthcare brands fell .52 points in average star rating between March and April. Most brands don’t see more than a .16 fluctuation in star rating throughout a year. Luckily, the few reviews received in May led to positive ratings and helped build up the star rating by .2 points. The healthcare industry is facing a slow recovery when it comes to their online reputation.

The healthcare industry let their review response rate drop to 27% during the months of April and May despite having lower than usual review volume. Healthcare brands, historically, have some of the highest review response rates across all industries, some bigger organizations averaging as high as 72%. In order to build back up their average star ratings and patient trust, healthcare organizations need to take this time to respond to reviews of concerned patients.

Unfortunately, despite the low review volume, healthcare brands received increasingly negative patient sentiment in their reviews. Between March to May, the negative sentiment distribution rose by almost 10%. By May, a quarter of the topics mentioned in patient reviews had a negative sentiment attached to it. These topics were mostly focused around the patient experience (frequent topics including “staff”, “management”, “food”, and “facility”) and not the actual care received.

SUMMARY

In the fight against the pandemic, the healthcare industry has bigger things to worry about then their reputation. However, as healthcare organizations look to open more non-critical locations it’s essential that they work to build up their reputation in order to reacquire patients.  Both review volume and review response rate dropped drastically then plateaued during this time causing review rating to drop half a point in April. In order to build back up their online reputation, healthcare organizations have a lot of work ahead of them.

One positive aspect of this crisis is that business directories, like Google, have taken this time to add more patient-focused features to the business listings of healthcare organizations. Healthcare organizations can now leverage tools and attributes such as: telehealth links, COVID-19 information links, COVID-19 featured updates, and online care attributes.

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