People can say almost anything they want about your practice online. It may be challenging, but earning more positive reviews is worth it–if you hope to grow your practice and keep people coming back. Positive reviews online are more important than ever before.

1. Focus on what patients want

The landscape of healthcare is drastically evolving. Patients don’t choose a doctor based on their location anymore. They expect a doctor’s appointment to be more like a customer service encounter. Every patient has a list of preferences and expectations from a healthcare professional, and they expect their elected practice to check off all the boxes. We all speculate about what patients want, but it’s better to get it from the source. Instead of wondering what you can do to improve – ask your patients or check their reviews. Online reviews offer insight into what patients value the most, so you can focus on modifying processes to meet patient expectations.

2. Strengthen the doctor-patient relationship by reacting positively

When you see a negative review from a patient, what do you do first? Too many practices write off that patient and think, “Good riddance.” But shouldn’t you endeavour to learn from your patients?

You want to make the patient feel like experiences matter. Replying to your reviews in an HPCSA-compliant way, without including any patient details, can help establish the doctor-patient relationship. Prospective patients will also see that you are committed to improving the patient experience. Here’s how to do it right:

  • Thank the patient for their feedback. 
  • Provide the patient with an alternate way to contact you.
  • Respond with a pre-approved message. You can come up with various pre-approved responses that address issues and explain how you are working to improve a problem.
  • Respond personally. Whenever possible, you should try to respond personally to settle a patient’s issues. If there was a mistake in billing, connect them with the appropriate person to correct the error. If there was a long wait-time, let them know if arrangements are underway to update systems for faster appointments.

Your patients will appreciate that you took the time to respond. Others might notice your fast response to a bad review and update it to reflect a positive experience.

3. Boost your SEO

Online reviews were one of the top 7 local search ranking factors in 2017. Reviews make or break the ranking of your practice in local search results:

  • Adding reviews to your website is a way to continuously generate fresh content, which is vital for search engines.
  • Reviews encourage patients to interact with your site.
  • People are more likely to visit sites with high ratings.

4. Create a great first impression

Recent studies have shown that 84% of consumers trust online reviews as much as references from friends. That’s a tremendous deal. It means patients believe the positive reviews on your site, and that visit your practice with a set of expectations, which can only be a good thing. When your website features positive reviews, patients come to your practice with a positive perspective, strengthening the doctor-patient relationship before you even meet.

5. Build your brand 

Positive reviews can help you to build your brand. With enough patient reviews, people will start to see you as an expert in your field. You can also build up enough positive reviews to negate the negative reviews you receive, but you have to get these reviews at the right time.

The best way to reach the right people at the right time is to send out requests for reviews with an automated system.

You can start by having patients first fill out a questionnaire in the office, with a scoring system on a scale of 1-10. Patients who score their experience between 7 and 10 can receive an email requesting a review on your site and Google.

Lower scores can create an email response as well, but this looks a bit different. A follow-up email can ask a patient how you can improve their experience so that you can better serve all patients.