Shoot for the stars with online physician reviews

Online reviews are a powerful way for physicians and healthcare providers to put their best foot forward. And few people would dispute their importance. Between 60 and 77 percent of patients use online review sites to help them select a physician.

What’s more, patients take the content of those reviews seriously. Eighty-five percent of people don’t feel comfortable making an appointment with a physician if more than 10 percent of their reviews are one star — no matter how good the other 90 percent are.

Obviously, the incentive to keep reviews positive is strong. However, great care doesn’t always translate directly into great reviews. To make online reviews deliver results for you, it’s important to fully understand how they operate.

What’s in a Review?

Online reviews are used in many ways and shaped by many factors, some of which have nothing at all to do with the quality of the physician.

For one thing, most patients don’t just visit one online review site. They visit about three on average, and their interactions with those sites change as they move closer to selecting a physician. Early in the journey, a quick glance at a star rating might be enough to exclude certain physicians from consideration. Later on, patients might rely on in-depth reviews written by actual patients — which can be both more nuanced and more subjective.

To complicate things further, many patients review physicians based on their medical appointments as a whole. If a patient has an unpleasant experience with the billing department or can’t schedule an appointment at their preferred time, this can lead them to give even an outstanding physician a less-than-stellar review.

Even starred reviews themselves can be more complex than they appear. While most ratings operate on an absolute scale, some are determined in comparison to other specialists in the same field. And while a doctor might be in the bottom 25 percent of specialists for a certain metric, that doesn’t mean they’re doing a bad job. Those same doctors might receive outstanding results if ranked on an absolute scale.

Earn Your Stars

Providing high-quality, compassionate care is absolutely necessary for physicians to earn strong online reviews, but it isn’t the only thing that’s needed. It takes a holistic approach to turn review sites into real opportunities for patient acquisition.

Monitoring your online reviews is an important place to start. Some reviews might be unwarranted or incorrect, which merits your immediate attention. If negative reviews have a basis in fact, you can use them to demonstrate your responsiveness and willingness to improve.

Review sites are just one aspect of a complete reputation-building campaign, but they’re too important to ignore. With a strong strategy and help from a knowledgeable partner, you can make online reviews a source of new patients, not a source of stress.