In 2018, the inaugural PatientPop healthcare provider survey report established an understanding of how doctors, dentists, and other providers are managing online reputation: their problems, tactics, and plans for the future.
One year later, we asked 233 healthcare providers nationwide about their online reputation management experiences to learn more and identify trends. By combining some 2018 questions with new inquiries about strategy and administrative work, we have an updated view of how providers connect with patients and handle reputation management for doctors.
In general, more healthcare providers are educated about online reputation management best practices and acknowledge the value of patient feedback. However, considering the business impact of a strong reputation, overall engagement numbers are still relatively low — about half of practices request feedback, for instance.
With results from this second annual survey, providers, practice managers, and practice owners can see areas of competitive advantage and opportunity, and understand where to hone their doctor reputation management focus.
Based on 2019 survey responses, just more than one-half of healthcare providers understand how they can improve their online reputation and better position their practice to attract new patients.
But, do providers feel taking those steps is an immediate need? We asked respondents to rate the urgency of addressing reputation at their practice; more than 60 percent perceive their reputation needs as ongoing or urgent.
Although nearly half of surveyed healthcare providers don’t know how to improve their online reputation, there is still a sign of improvement year-over-year: a 17.5 percent increase in those providers who do, compared to 2018 survey results.
Those knowledgeable providers are more likely to think of online reputation management as a regular necessity. Of those who gauge their reputation needs as steady and ongoing, two-thirds (67 percent) know how to positively affect their reputation.
About nine of 10 providers have seen reviews of their practice online, a fact that highlights the omnipresent nature of today’s patient reviews. To explore more about patient feedback, we asked providers where those reviews are popping up and how frequently patients share their opinions.
Google and Yelp have emerged — by far — as the leading websites on which healthcare providers see their own patient reviews. They are the only two sites named by more than half the respondents in our 2019 survey.
Google experienced a 33.5 percent increase in mentions over last year, the highest among all sites listed. As a greater percentage of providers list broader-interest websites as a destination for their reviews — Yelp and Facebook also saw increases — a fewer percentage of providers mention the healthcare-related sites on the list.
Regardless of where reviews appear, half of providers report they come from 5 percent of their patients or less — with about 8 percent reporting no reviews at all. It should come as no surprise, then, that practices who see their monthly review number as below expectations is three times higher than those who feel their number exceeds expectations.
Connecting with patients outside the exam room is central to cultivating a solid reputation. But it takes time, effort and, often, a careful, scalable process. With our 2019 survey, we asked practices how much time they devote to patient communication tasks and their commitment to developing and maintaining a feedback loop with their patients.
Meeting patient demand requires exceptional patient communication, which promotes good care and builds loyalty — both of which are key aspects to online reputation management. But the most basic communication tasks are taking precious time from practice staff.
More than half of practices (52.1 percent) are spending 10+ hours a week responding to patient calls and emails and scheduling and confirming appointments. Of those practices, more than one-third (34.7 percent) spend 30+ hours a week. Nearly one-fifth (18.1 percent) spend 40+ hours weekly.
More than one-third of practices aren’t requesting feedback from patients, but every practice should, if only to keep up with others in their market: Compared to a year ago, 11.2 percent more practices now ask for feedback.
With the ongoing consumerization of healthcare, more people than ever are taking control of their health, relying on online habits to carefully find and assess healthcare providers before booking an appointment.
To present an exemplary first impression online, practices need a method to manage online reputation tasks, from asking for feedback and responding to patients to tracking online reviews. As with any business change, additional resources are usually required. Yet, many practices did little to bring a process to online reputation tasks in 2018.
According to survey respondents, more than 40 percent of practices didn’t apply additional time or resources to manage their reputation in 2018. Nearly one-third (30.6 percent) relied on existing staff to take on reputation tasks, adding more administrative work to the practice and potentially inviting more staff burnout.
For 2019, practices told us they’re settling in with their current online reputation management processes or adding more. Only 2.3 percent say they’ll cut back on their reputation resources. Shockingly, nearly one-third aren’t sure of their plans.
In our patient perspective survey report from earlier this year, respondents named patient reviews as the most influential online resource when making decisions about their care. It’s clear that building and boasting a strong online reputation has become critical to upholding a leadership position in the market and attracting new patients; based on these most recent survey results, more healthcare providers in 2019 are recognizing this newer landscape.
Based on their responses, a greater percentage of providers understand online reputation management tactics and respond to patients who share negative feedback. But a sizable element of inactivity or lack of planning is still present. These passive healthcare practices will find themselves at a disadvantage as others actively take control of their online reputation, just as patients are taking greater control of their healthcare choices.
Results for the 2019 healthcare providers survey on online reputation were gathered via a nationwide online survey of 233 people in May and June 2019. More than half the respondents are physicians (57.3 percent), 11.6 percent are dentists, 11.2 percent are office and practice managers, and 6.5 percent are practice owners. Some responses were obtained via a SurveyMonkey audience program, and participants were not excluded at any point by way of a screening question.
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