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The Understated Impact of Patient Reviews

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How Many Reviews Do Shoppers Read?

The majority of shoppers surveyed read between one and ten reviews before making a purchase decision, and 12% say they will read more than 10

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Patient reviews are an often overlooked aspect of running a successful medical practice. While it is true that the quality of treatment should be the biggest priority, how that treatment is rendered can leave many patients feeling unsatisfied.

This article will provide a brief explanation of the importance of reviews, discuss the types of studies one should seek out, and detail practices that encourage good reviews.

Why Do Reviews Matter?

The average hotel manager, restaurant owner, or car mechanic understands the importance of good reviews. As consumer-facing businesses, they rely on positive word-of-mouth to maintain and grow their customer base. This is for two key reasons:

1. Individuals given service deemed “unsatisfactory” will not return to that establishment.

2. These same customers may leave bad reviews, dissuading potential newcomers from going.

On the surface, one might believe that clinics would not fall under the same category. Many practices are highly specialized, facing much less competition than the average hotel or restaurant. 

Additionally, the express goal of a medical provider is to solve health problems. It is cold or warm, welcoming or distant, etc. — is irrelevant to the stated purposes. When the primarily concern is with helping someone, niceties can sometimes get lost in the shuffle.

However, one’s choice of doctor is a highly personal one. Patients seek many things in their doctor: knowledge, security, warmth, the list goes on. And studies have shown that they will go out of their way to find doctors who have repeatedly demonstrated they can provide quality care.

According to a study from RepuGen, medical practices top the list of institutions people consult reviews for in their decision-making process. In total, 79% of respondents considered online reviews as a factor when selecting a healthcare provider, while 30% indicated that they would not visit a clinic that has poor reviews.

Furthermore, 63% percent of patients said they check ten or more reviews before deciding on a doctor. One’s overall score is essential, but a quantity of reviews gives patients the reassurance they need to visit one’s clinic.

When patient use online Review

The Reviews That You Want

Now that we have established the importance of reviews, we should consider the specifics of what a “good review” is.

There are three sites that prospective patients overwhelmingly gravitate toward in the healthcare selection process. Sites like RateMD, Yelp, Facebook, and Vitals are some, but the top three in order of importance are:

Google

WebMD

HealthGrades

Sentiments in physician reviews

As Per RepuGen, 63% of patients check ten or more reviews, so one should ideally try to get ten reviews on each of these platforms. However, quantity is not the only thing one should be looking for — they found that it is fifth in the top five most important factors of a review.

In order of importance, RepuGen found the following factors most consequential in an impactful review:

● Star rating

● Legitimacy 

● Recency 

● Sentiment 

● Quantity

Considered each aspect when encouraging people to leave reviews, consideredtion for each aspect should be . For instance, examine the following two reviews invented for this article:

Review 1: Five Stars — October 5th, 2014

“Dr. Smith was very nice. The office was clean, the staff respectful, and she helped me understand my condition better. I would recommend her to my friends.”

Review 2: Five Stars — March 21st, 2021

“Dr. Smith was incredibly helpful in helping me figure out my bladder issue. I told her what the hospital had diagnosed me with, and she asked me for tons of follow-ups. “Did you feel that was accurate? Are there any symptoms that have gone away since?” Lots of stuff like that that the ER doctors had never bothered to act.

She provided a new diagnosis, prescribed some medicine, and called me several times throughout my two-week treatment to check in on my status. When I came back the next month, she asked me how my son’s championship baseball game — something I had mentioned to her in passing — had gone.

If I ever have another urology concern, Dr. Smith will be the first person I reach out to. She listened to me, helped solve my bladder problem, and was extraordinarily friendly and professional.”

These are both five-star reviews, but one is superior to the other. It’s more recent, descriptive, and specific in its praise. One should encourage patients to touch on the little things in reviews, to highlight their experience in a detailed and informative manner.

Patients are reading these reviews looking for insight into how one’s practice is run. If they can provide that, readers will be better informed on its quality of care.

What Can You Do?

doctor patient communication
Leave a lasting impression

There is no perfect answer to accumulating good reviews. However, we have prepared three tips that can help encourage patients to leave good reviews.

  • Set Up a Reminder System

Often, patients who had poor experiences will want to leave a bad review. Conversely, those who had average or even great experiences will not necessarily be as inclined to go out of their way to talk about quality service.

The best way to counteract this phenomenon is to incorporate reviews into one’s outreach process. Mention reviews on a patient’s way out, send them a reminder email or phone call, do any little thing that could spur those with positive experiences to vocalize that. The more one gets, the better their odds.

  • Respond to Reviews, Good or Bad

While it can be a bit intimidating to talk to those who leave reviews — awful ones — it is crucial to interact with them. A simple “thank you” statement should suffice for good reviews, although we would advise against boilerplate responses as those might come off as impersonal. 

Similarly, apologizing or extending an invitation to discuss service quality to those who leave bad reviews can be helpful. Many sites allow reviewers to edit their review after it is submitted, and one-star reviews can be turned into five-star reviews if the problem is remedied.

Related – When and How to Respond to Online Patient Reviews

  • Go Above and Beyond with Patient Outreach
Female medical practitioner

Finally, for many patients, a doctor that they feel cares about them is critical. Postcards are a tried-and-true practice, but check-ins and follow-up calls can remind a patient of the quality of one’s care.

While these are often done throughout particular treatments, feel free to continue some additional outreach after that. A nudge here or there can be an effective reminder. Perhaps it could even be life-saving if it helps diagnose recurrent or underlying conditions.

Conclusion

The importance of patient reviews is criminally under-discussed. It often proves paramount in maintaining and growing one’s practice. We hope that this article helps illuminate this somewhat niche aspect of the industry and gives them an avenue to improve their practice.