Whether you know it or not, you already have an online reputation. You are listed on rating and review sites across the web. What those sites say and how you present yourself on the web are more important than ever. The majority of patients—84%—say they use online reviews to evaluate healthcare providers. This means that taking control of your online presence and learning how to shine online is critical to keeping your current patients and finding new ones.
According to John Sung Kim, the technology evangelist at Kareo, two recent studies from Stanford and Harvard prove the value of social media in healthcare. Researchers in the Harvard study found that every one star increase in social media generated a 9% increase in annual revenues. Researchers also found that on Yelp, the Elite reviewers have a direct influence on the consumer opinion. This demonstrates the power of review sites to influence consumer healthcare decisions.
In fact, as Kim pointed out, the power of social media can actually level the playing field for small, independent practices. A well-executed review strategy can allow them to compete effectively against larger provider organizations whose marketing budgets traditionally gave them an advantage.
Here are four keys to maximize your independent practice's online presence.
- Create a website that is actionable and engaging. Patients are more loyal to a provider who offers a patient portal, and many patients say they want online scheduling and secure communications with their doctor.
- Set up social media accounts to interact with patients outside the exam room. According to Forbes, some practices are gaining as much as 20% of their new patients from online publishing, including social media. You need to be there, and be active. Post regularly, respond to patient comments, and be sure you share reviews as well.
- Claim your online listings, and make sure they are accurate and up to date. In the old days, you had to do this manually, but today there are solutions that will do it for you. When you get your listings up to date, you improve your search rankings as well.
- Generate more positive patient reviews online. No one likes to ask for reviews, especially not healthcare providers. However, you need them to improve your search rankings and appeal to new patients who find you online. Using marketing automation software to follow up with all patients after their visits allows you to ask for reviews and then syndicate positive reviews to multiple sites easily.
With the importance of your online presence and social media rising each year, generating positive reviews and properly handling negative reviews is a must. Yet, many small practices face challenges because even the most popular providers may receive only a few reviews each year, making the impact of any negative reviews even more devastating.
Use these tips to boost your number of positive reviews and quickly and effectively handle negative ones:
- Routinely ask patients for reviews after each appointment or use an automated patient survey system. Handing out cards with links that ask for reviews can work as well.
- Use a solution that alerts you when there is a negative review.
- Follow-up on negative reviews immediately. Listen to the reviews and look for feedback that you can use to improve your practice. Let the reviewer know that you want to fix the problem. If it is specific to the patient, take it offline. If it is more general, you can respond when you’ve made a change or addressed it. The key is to take the feedback seriously and work to make improvements.
- If you work to get patients to give you those good reviews, then a few negative reviews won’t have a huge impact.
- For more tips to independent practice success, download 8 Ways to Keep Your Name on the Door.