Why Physicians Should Manage Their Online Reputation
As marketers, we know that word-of-mouth communication can build or destroy a brand or reputation quickly, despite whatever paid advertising is in market. It’s important to realize that word-of-mouth has now gone digital and it’s critical for physicians to understand and manage their online reputation.
According to a survey by the American Osteopathic Association, as many as 33 percent of adults consult either an online physician ratings site or a consumer review site when selecting a physician. Reputation is important, nearly half of patients (44 percent) are willing to travel and go out of their own network to choose a physician with better ratings.
Patients’ most trusted review sites:
Yelp® - 26%
Healthgrades® - 26%
RateMDs – 25%
Vitals – 10%
ZocDoc – 8%
Other – 6%
*Source: Software Advice
Many physicians are fearful of online review sites because of the assumption that only naysayers will take the time to review them. However, in Software Advice’s Report on patients’ use of online reviews, 71 percent of survey respondents say they usually write positive or neutral reviews, and 32 percent say that their main motivation for writing reviews is to help other patients. This survey data is supported by the actual Yelp review data – an analysis of Yelp reviews show that healthcare providers, on the whole, fare better than other types of businesses reviewed.
Even if some reviews are negative, it is better to know patient frustrations than to remain unaware and not address the issues. Most patients will not think poorly of a physician because of a handful of negative reviews. However, a survey by healthcare technology company Digital Assent shows that 85 percent of patients are not comfortable choosing a physician if more than 10 percent of the reviews have a one-star rating. So, as a physician, it is best to identify the issues and fix them, before the negative reviews start to add up.
Some content is summarized from SHSMD’s Sept./Oct. 2015 issue of Spectrum. Other sources are noted throughout.