Healthcare practitioners are busy professionals and few have extra time to devote to the reviews their patients post online. The reality today, though, is that someone in the practice needs to be doing it. If not, online reviews can hurt your business simply through inattention.
Online reviews give insight into what your patients think about you, both good and bad. The negative reviews provide a way to improve your practice and also demonstrate whether you are open to improvement.
Google also uses reviews as one factor in ranking your business when potential clients search for healthcare practices. That is an important connection you must consider in managing your reviews.
Data Supports the Importance of Online Reviews
Millions of people search online every day. Here is what the data shows about their choices based on their search activity. They also show that the importance of online reviews cannot be overstated.
According to the Local Consumer Review Survey from BrightLocal:
- 84% of people trust online reviews just as much as a personal recommendation.
- 68% form an opinion after reading 1 to 6 reviews.
- 74% trust a business that has positive online reviews.
- 60% say they hesitate to use a business that has negative reviews.
- Only 14% of searchers consider using a business with a 1 or 2-star rating.
- Consumers only need 3 reviews to make up their minds about a business.
- 22% of consumers only consider reviews written in the last 2 weeks.
This is important information. Within all the statistics is one major lesson: Online reviews in healthcare are critical. If you haven’t designated someone on your staff to oversee your Google Business listing, do so today. Or find help from experts (like ours here at My KPI) that specialize in online branding, SEO, and other digital marketing services for healthcare businesses.
Google, Patient Reviews, and Rankings
It stands to reason that the more positive reviews a business has online the better their ranking will be on Google’s search results. Although the exact algorithm isn’t known, Google does say that there are 3 factors for local rankings:
Reviews reflect your online reputation to determine how prominent your practice is. So, those positive reviews are affecting your search ranking. And keep in mind that millions of people only look at the top 10 Google results when they search for something online. That’s where you need to be.
Is It Quantity of Reviews or Quality?
The BrightLocal survey states that only 1 to 6 reviews are enough for most people to make up their mind about trusting a business. Only 10% read more than 10 reviews.
Since there is no way to know exactly how many reviews determine a ranking, it is helpful to turn to the age of a review. 73% of consumers don’t think that any review over 3 months old is relevant. This means that reviews for your business must be consistent and they must be current. It is in this way that a practice creates and keeps a strong reputation. A lapse in effort on an ongoing basis can result in an untold number of lost clients.
Google uses a system of stars that reviewers use to indicate their response. They can also add comments. Both of these things are tied to your Google Business listing in the search results. An obvious question then relates to the stars: How many is enough? Does a business need to get all 5-star reviews to be considered worthy by searchers?
Here are some more statistics you should know:
- 58% of consumers searching online say that the star rating is most important.
- 87% feel that a review that received 3 to 5 stars is worth considering.
- 92% state they would use a business with an average of 4.0.
- Ratings between 4.2 and 4.5 were considered most trustworthy.
- A rating of 5 was often seen as unreliable.
Based on these numbers, it’s critical for you to have a system for asking patients to share their opinion online. Ask every patient to do this. Experts feel that reviews are “the human-driven filter of ratings….” It’s to your benefit to solicit a review from every patient who comes through your door.
Responding to Reviews Is Critical
The best way to generate good reviews, of course, is to provide a superb patient experience. Their positive reviews then become advocacy for your practice. The next step is paying attention to all reviews.
Yes, every one of them. Put yourself in the position of a patient looking for help with a medical or dental problem. If they see no response to any of the reviews about their business, a message of inattention is being sent.
The response should be something along the lines of “Thank you, we appreciate you as a patient!” for every positive review. Negative reviews can be viewed as a way to engage with a client who had a less than stellar experience. Find out what the problem was from the client’s perspective and what you can do to make it better. You will be doing this as a comment to their review so everyone sees the conversation. They know that you care enough to get more information, express your own disappointment in their poor experience, and are trying to fix it.
A responsive healthcare practice will use patients’ feedback to directly address an issue. Did someone complain about the restroom not being clean enough? Hire a new cleaning service. Are the waiting rooms too cold? Make adjustments to the thermostat. Is your dental equipment outdated? Consider upgrading. Make sure you tell the client what you will do to address the problem they mentioned.
Respond to reviews quickly. Not responding or only checking them every few months looks as if you don’t care. That is not the message you want to send. Potential clients will move on to the next search result.
Online Review Are Vital to Your Healthcare Practice
People today are motivated to post online reviews about everything. Your healthcare practice is no different. Managing the reviews can bring more people into your business, but ignoring reviews is disastrous in today’s technology-driven society.