Survey Shows Patient Use of Online Physician Reviews Growing

By Lea Chatham  |  February 8, 2016

A new study from Software Advice shows that reviews of physicians are having a greater impact on patient decision making. It turns out that the majority of patients are using online physician reviews in some way. Tweet this Kareo story

Nearly 85% of patients surveyed said they consult a reviews website to view or post comments and ratings of healthcare staff. And when using review sites, 77% of patients said they use them prior to choosing a physician, making it a crucial first step in selecting a new doctor.

“Our data shows online reviews are a very significant part of the selection process when it comes to healthcare providers,” says Market Researcher Gaby Loria. “Reviews-based rankings are often the first impression people get of a practice and can make or break a doctor’s online reputation. Seeing as more than three-quarters of patients surveyed use online reviews as their first step in finding a new doctor, individual physicians and large practitioner groups alike can’t afford to ignore the influence of these sites. ”

The impact of positive reviews is so strong that many patients would consider going out of network if the physician’s ratings were better than those of an in-network provider. “Good reviews have the power to loosen purse strings, as 47% of people in our survey say they wouldn’t mind going out-of-network to be treated by a well-reviewed health care provider,” says Loria. “It pays for practices to keep their web presence front of mind.”

Reviews are also playing a role in patient retention and satisfaction. According to the survey, 23% of the respondents said they use reviews primarily after selecting a provider or to evaluate a current provider. Half of of patients said they leave very positive or somewhat positive feedback while only 6% said they leave somewhat negative or very negative reviews.

The low number of negative reviews should be encouraging news for physicians, many of whom are hesitant to ask patients to leave reviews for fear of a bad one. Even more encouraging is that patients also said they would be likely to disregard a review that seemed exaggerated or where the author’s expectations seemed unreasonable.

The survey really indicates that there is definitely benefit in asking patients for feedback after a visit. Doing this is more likely to generate positive reviews than negative ones, and potential patients will probably view negative reviews with a critical eye.

The survey also asked patients what information is most important to them in a review. Quality of care was at the top of the list followed by physician ratings and patient experience. Within the category of quality of care, accurate diagnosis was the top concern. For the practice at large, staff friendliness topped the list.

This survey strongly points to physician reviews and ratings playing an increasing role in recruiting and retaining patients. With today’s affordable practice marketing automation solutions practices can’t afford not to focus on increasing patient reviews and improving their online reputation.

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