There can no longer be any doubt that online reputation matters. Yet another study has revealed that patients regularly seek out online reviews of physicians. This one, conducted by Software Advice, showed that 84 percent of patients use online reviews to evaluate physicians. Other studies have shown that the nearly 80 percent of patients conduct online searches before booking appointments as well.
Most physicians believe that word of mouth is the primary source of new patients. And many patients say they do rely on word of mouth. However, these surveys indicate that while that may be true, patients are also now checking the physician’s online reviews and ratings.
The content of your online reviews matters. Nearly 50 percent of patients said that a physician’s online reputation is important to them when choosing a new provider.
Considering all this, it isn’t surprising that recent research also suggests good reviews impact revenue. A study conducted by Harvard Professor Michael Luca showed that where Yelp reviews penetrated a local market, the business of chain restaurants declined as consumers opted for local restaurants with better reviews. This bodes well for independent practices competing against larger health systems and national chain minute clinics. With an effective strategy to increase online reviews, small medical practices can attract new patients. The survey also found that an increase in star rating on Yelp can be directly tied to an increase in revenue—one additional star equates to a revenue increase of nine percent!
It used to be a tedious and difficult thing to update and monitor your online listings and generate new patient reviews. There was a time when less than five percent of patients actually left reviews. And without a little encouragement, patients still aren’t very likely to leave reviews today. However, if you ask them, they are far more likely to do so. Plus, there are now easy-to-use, affordable solutions that can help drive patients to create reviews and help your practice keep your online listings up to date.
Dr. Scott Kramer, an OB/GYN in California, learned the benefits firsthand. Using marketing automation software he was able to get over 250 positive social media reviews in just 36 months. He now ranks first for his name in Google searches and has an average 4.75 star rating on first page search results across multiple sites. His reviews are read three to five times per day, and he receives, on average, one new prospective patient phone call per day.
Dr. Kramer’s experience makes it clear that for a new practice or a practice looking to grow, a small investment in marketing automation technology could result in a big return of new patients. In fact, patients put so much value in reviews that better reviews can prompt them to choose an out-of-network provider. According to the Software Advice study, 47 percent would go out of network for a doctor who has similar qualifications to an in in-network doctor, but has more favorable reviews.
All this research points in one direction. It’s time for providers to think of marketing automation in much the same way they think of billing software or an EHR. It’s simply a requirement of doing business in healthcare. If you want to stay independent and thrive you need to manage your online reputation effectively, and the right technology can help you do that.
For more tips on how to help improve your online reputation and grow your practice, join me for my upcoming free webinar, How to Grow Your Medical Practice In 3 Easy Steps.