If you’re not focused on collecting patient feedback about your practice, it’s time to realign your priorities. PatientPop research shows that three out of four people (74.6 percent) have conducted an online search to learn more about a doctor, dentist, or other medical care — and that 59 percent say online reviews contribute to their decision when choosing a healthcare provider.
Since prospective patients place a high value on other people’s experiences, it’s important to know the proper ways to go about collecting feedback. Here, we discuss the right and wrong ways to accrue patient reviews.
8 dos and don’ts when gathering feedback and patient reviews
Don't review your own practice or competitor practices
If you don’t have many patient reviews, it can be tempting to write one or two yourself … but you should never, ever do this. Reviewing your own practice — or your employer’s — is against guidelines on several local review sites. These rules are in place because reviews are supposed to be unbiased, and prospective patients should feel confident that they reflect actual experiences.
In a similar vein, you should not write reviews for any competitors. This is also against review sites’ guidelines, and if you get caught, you could be penalized.
Don’t sully any genuine online reputation management efforts you’ve already made. Focus exclusively on getting legitimate feedback from patients.
Do review healthcare practices you patronize
You know the importance of online reviews for your healthcare practice, so it’s only polite to review practices you utilize as a patient. As a bonus, if any of these healthcare providers — or their employees — happen to be on your patient roster, this could inspire them to write reviews of their own.
Don't offer compensation in exchange for patient reviews
Money talks, but when it comes to online reviews, it shouldn’t have a voice. If you reward people with money or other gifts to write reviews, they tend to feel obligated to include only positive information — even if they’re not explicitly instructed to do so.
Since patient reviews are supposed to be impartial, this is unfair to everyone reading them. If word gets out that you’re paying for feedback, you could lose patients’ trust and could also be penalized by review sites.
Do communicate the importance of online reputation
Many happy patients don’t need an incentive to share their feedback, as they believe in you as a healthcare provider and often want to help you succeed.
In fact, more than half (59 percent) of patients have written reviews for local businesses, according to BrightLocal. Plus, an additional 27 percent said they would consider doing so. Therefore, if you explain the importance of online reputation, you shouldn’t have much trouble convincing patients to share their feedback.
Don't attempt to collect patient reviews in bulk
When trying to build your online reputation, you might think it’s a good idea to ask your entire patient roster for feedback at one time, but this won’t work. A healthcare practice needs a steady stream of patient reviews over time, not a flood of reviews every six months or year.
Plus, 85 percent of consumers only consider reviews written within the last three months relevant, and 40 percent only care about those submitted during the past two weeks, according to BrightLocal.
Do ask for feedback shortly after appointments
Sending patient satisfaction surveys shortly after appointments is an efficient and effective method to collect a steady stream of feedback over time. And since the visit will be fresh in patients’ minds, the feedback will likely be more detailed. This will help you identify any recurring complaints so that you can resolve any issues more quickly.
Don't try to silence critical patients
Receiving criticism of your practice doesn’t feel great, but it can help your team learn and grow. When patients share less-than-flattering feedback, don’t ignore them. Instead, really pay attention to what they’re saying, and make reasonable adjustments.
Do reply to negative feedback
Acknowledging negative feedback should be part of your online reputation management strategy. When a patient’s critical comments are addressed by the practice, satisfaction rates surge by 99 percent, according to PatientPop.
Plus, 89 percent of consumers actually read businesses’ responses to reviews. Negative feedback deters many patients from choosing a practice, so it’s important to give context that can help them better understand the situation.
Clearly, the benefits of crafting a sincere response cannot be emphasized enough.
Patient reviews are crucial to the lasting success of your practice, but only helpful when accumulated the right way. Encouraging patients to honestly recount their experiences with your healthcare practice will boost your online presence and build trust with prospective patients.
For more on the topic of patient reviews, check out the blog post “Common mistakes doctors make when requesting patient reviews.”