According to Software Advice, 71 percent of patients say their first step in finding a new doctor is checking online reviews. Then, as patients peruse your practice’s reviews, the feedback they see weighs heavily into their decision-making. In the PatientPop 2021 patient perspective survey, 74 percent of patients consider a positive online reputation very or extremely important when choosing a doctor.
That’s why many practices consider their reputation management program a key marketing tool to help drive patient acquisition and long-term practice growth. But, what happens when a single-office practice achieves that desired growth and expands into a multi-site medical group?
To continue maintaining and building upon that influential reputation, a practice must take certain considerations into account when starting to run multiple office locations. If online branding and reputation isn’t properly managed, certain offices could lag behind, be left out of local search results, or even confuse patients — none of which is good for business.
Setting up Google My Business profiles for multiple locations
At PatientPop, we talk a lot about the importance of Google My Business, the Google business profile directory. It’s an incredibly powerful (and free!) tool that can help elevate the visibility of your healthcare practice in local search results.
According to a nationwide panel of experts (including Joel Headley, director of SEO at PatientPop) Google business profiles play a key role in determining whether your organization will show up in the Google Local Pack, the prominent search results placement located between the paid and organic search results. Since we know 75 percent of prospective patients search for a provider or care online, any help to land near the top of search results is sure to facilitate practice growth and success.
For practices with multiple locations, one Google My Business profile isn’t enough. Google views each physical location as a place a local customer can visit and patronize, each with its own experience. Therefore, you’ll need to claim, update, and manage multiple profiles (see our Google My Business how-to guide), treating each of your medical group’s locations as a separate entity. Doing so is critical to enhance your online reputation and facilitate better search performance, as these go hand in hand.
If one or more of your offices doesn’t have a dedicated Google business profile, for starters, patients will be unable to leave an online review with Google for those locations. Since the volume and frequency of patient reviews can influence potential new patients, and inform search engine optimization (SEO), it’s in your best interest to make it as easy as possible for patients to review each office of your healthcare practice.
How do you start? First, take a step to streamline the process and avoid confusion down the road: Use a generic company email address (i.e. email@example.com) to claim your practice’s listings, rather than individual’s email. This will prevent you from losing access to the account if there are staff changes/turnover.
What’s next for your multiple locations? Clearly differentiate each in a consistent manner to avoid confusion. Lead always with your brand (practice) name, followed by the office location designator. For example, “Chicago Primary Care – Midtown Office.” This makes it easier for patients who want to contact your office or leave a review to know which office they’ve landed on.
Establishing a patient-provider feedback loop for a better online reputation
Contrary to what some may believe, your healthcare practice’s online reputation isn’t completely out of your hands. There are numerous proven methods to help practices execute on their reputation management strategy and see results.
For practices with multiple locations, it’s even more important to focus on patient review frequency and volume since reviews will be spread across numerous sites, and have the potential to impress patients in different locales.
The only proven way to build a reputation of online reviews is to ask for feedback. Recent PatientPop research shows that when practices ask for feedback, patients are 2.3 times more likely to proactively post a review online on popular sites like Google, Yelp, Facebook, and WebMD.
One of the easiest ways to encourage that feedback is to implement automated patient satisfaction surveys as part of your front-office workflow. A short survey can go to each patient, via email or text message, following each patient encounter, which encourages patients to start sharing their thoughts and opinions.
If you have multiple offices, remember that it’s critical to request feedback for each location. This will result in reviews that reflect the experiences of those who visit that office, and will help gather enough reviews to improve that location’s search performance and acquisition opportunities.
The bottom line: Multiple business profiles help drive practice interest and success
Regardless of the size of your practice or medical group, a stronger online reputation means the potential for more new patients. From enhancing your healthcare practice’s local search performance to reassuring prospective patients that your providers deliver an exceptional experience, your reputation management program can play a major role in realizing long-term success.