The internet giveth and the internet taketh. On one hand, the benefits of access, convenience, and the broad exposure of a strong online presence cannot be overstated. Everything from attracting and retaining new patients, to the ease of patient communications and booking appointments make it necessary for any modern medical practice to embrace life on the internet.
On the flip side, with the rise of online review sites like Yelp, and the more targeted physician rating sites like ZocDoc and Healthgrades, anything from running a few minutes late to an appointment to breathing too loudly near a patient’s ear can garner a negative review, the sum of which can impact not just a doctor’s and practice’s reputation, but also their bottom line.
Take Control of Your Online Presence
A quick Google search is an easy way to see where your practice pops up and how the doctors are being rated, and where. Monitoring the sites on a regular basis (think once or twice a month) to stay on top of reviews, especially on Yelp, is a great way to know how your practice is ranking.
Make Online Reviews a Part of Your Practice’s Customer Service Experience
Asking loyal and satisfied patients to leave positive reviews after an appointment is a great way to bolster an online rating, and to mitigate the effects of the unavoidable negative reviews. Studies have found that medical practices are perceived as more trustworthy and legitimate when they have a higher number of reviews. Encouraging patients to leave an honest and fair review can help to keep staff members focused on providing the best healthcare experience possible for each patient. Sheer volume can also help to drown out the less positive reviews (Hint: they happen to everyone!)
Try to Stop Negative Reviews Before They Happen
Offering patients an outlet to vent their frustrations directly with the practice – either through a paper or internal online complaint form – can help to keep disgruntled patients from venting their dissatisfaction with your service to the online world. Even the angriest of patrons can sometimes be dissuaded from writing a bad review when they feel their concerns are taken seriously, and that their experience and opinions matter.
Be Gracious and Diplomatic When Responding to Negative Reviews
Defending your reputation against false and potentially damaging reviews is important, however, remaining calm and professional, even when dealing with the craziest of online reviewers, is important in order to maintain the practice’s professional reputation. Stick to the facts, and try not to take it personally.