It’s no secret that consumers are checking online reviews before making appointments with doctors.
In 2017, Consumer Reports reported that almost 60% of consumers claim to use online reviews when choosing a new healthcare provider. In another article published June 4, 2019, on Forbes.com, the author writes, “… online reviews are one of the most trusted and frequently consulted sources for patients. Yet many medical practices leave patient reviews to chance.”
Historically, online reviews were made primarily for restaurants and hotels, but today there’s significant growth in online reviews in the medical field, according to Jon Dinchak, senior product manager at AdvancedMD, an ambulatory healthcare technology company.
Patients are becoming savvier about searching for dermatologists and other providers, and they do, according to Mr. Dinchak.
“Previously you’d go to your insurance provider and type in, for example, ‘dermatologist.’ They’d show the three closest people, and you’d randomly pick one,” Mr. Dinchak says.
Online reviews reveal much more, including how patients felt they were treated, if they had to wait too long, if the staff was pleasant or grumpy, as well as a star rating, which gives a visual message about the experience, whether it was great to dreadful.
While doctors and practice staff might think online reviews are largely out of their control, that’s actually not the case. In fact, there are ways to manage reviews, learn from them and act on them to improve patient recruitment and retention.
Tips for Survey Success
AdvancedMD is among a number of companies that has developed software to manage online surveys and patient feedback. It’s critical, Mr. Dinchak says, that doctors and staff review data, which his company provides in reports and dashboards, on a daily or weekly basis.
Practices should not only survey and monitor new patients but also existing patients after their appointments.
Ideally, practices should give patients the choice between responding anonymously or by name and office. Practices tend to get more responses when patients can respond anonymously, but the data from those surveys isn’t as useful.
Mr. Dinchak recommends reputation management software that’s automated, so patients automatically receive a survey by text, email or phone, depending on their preferences. The practice can configure and personalize the message, taking into account patient privacy, as well as set up the software so surveys go out at a certain time. Mr. Dinchak recommends that most surveys go out immediately after appointments.
“From the doctors’ standpoints and for the office, it’s set and forget. They don’t have to worry about it,” Mr. Dinchak says.