The Dos and Don’ts of Online Patient Reviews

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Is your audiology clinic or medical practice struggling to get positive online patient reviews? Maybe the online review software is too complicated to figure out. Or maybe you think patients are the problem— you can’t get patients to write reviews or you don’t think prospective patients will read them.

Whatever your particular challenge, you should know that it is possible to recruit more online patient reviews by following a few simple guidelines. Use this list of dos and don’ts and your practice can start getting more positive reviews and mitigate any negative ones. The more glowing reviews your practice gets online, the more new patients will be calling to book appointments.

The ‘Dos’

  • Gather as many reviews as possible.
    • A large number of reviews for your practice sends positive signals to other patients — and to the search engines. Patients will be more likely to pick up the phone if they see lots of five-star reviews next to your practice’s name. And businesses with five or more online reviews tend to rank higher in Google search results. If you get ahead of your competition, they’ll struggle to catch up.
  • Ask everyone who comes into your office to write a review.
    • The more people you ask, the better your chances are of getting a large number of positive reviews. Consider handing out business cards with information on how to leave a review; keeping a tablet in the office that patients can write reviews on; or asking patients to submit a review on their smartphone while they wait.
  • Realize that older patients do read reviews.
    • Don’t discount online reviews because you think your older patients won’t read them. Older patients read reviews—and trust them as much as referrals from their own friends and family. In fact, 72% of consumers say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. If you’re still worried about spreading the word to less tech-savvy patients, you can advertise your practice’s positive reviews score by email and/or traditional advertising.
  • Be sure to comply with HIPAA law when replying to online reviews.
    • There will be instances when you may want to respond to either a positive or a negative review. When you do, be careful not to disclose any of a patient’s protected health information (PHI). If you have any doubt about whether you can address a patient’s praise or complaints without discussing their PHI, send them a private communication instead. Limit your public responses to generic statements, such as “thanks for the kind words” or “sorry you had some issues.”
  • Add a page on your practice’s website that makes it easy for patients to leave positive reviews.
    • One of the biggest barriers to patients leaving online reviews is the amount of effort involved. Set up a page on your website that makes it as easy as possible to complete the reviews process. The page should walk them through writing a review, choosing from a number of reviews platforms (such as Google, Yelp and Facebook) and assigning a star rating. What’s more, this page should capture negative feedback before it goes live, so you have a chance to respond and alleviate the patient’s concerns.

The ‘Don’ts’

    • Don’t assume patients don’t read or believe online reviews.
      • Even if you don’t think patients read reviews or accept them as valid, trust us—your patients do. In fact, four out of five consumers have reversed a purchase decision based on reading a negative online review. It doesn’t matter how small your town is, how many doctors your practice has or who your patient population is. Reviews are widely popular and highly trusted among all types of consumers—so make sure to invest time and effort in recruiting them.
    • Don’t respond to negative reviews when you’re angry.
      • A calm, measured response to a negative online review can cause the reviewer to retract or even reverse their feedback. Contact unhappy patients directly and ask if there’s anything you can do to make things right. Often, patients just want to know someone cares, or have an issue that can be easily remedied. However, if you write an angry response, the patient may take to other reviews platforms to spread the negative word—which can be disastrous for your online reputation.
    • Don’t violate HIPAA law when responding to reviews.
      • As mentioned above, be careful what you disclose when replying to patients’ reviews, whether they’re positive or negative. Don’t reveal any of a patient’s PHI in a public reviews forum. If you can’t address their issue without discussing their PHI, send them a private message instead.
    • Don’t assume patients will find your reviews page on their own.
      • Again, the harder it is for patients to find your reviews page, the less likely they’ll be to write one. Make it as easy as possible for patients: Give them the Web address for your reviews page on a business card, link to it in patient emails, keep a tablet in the office dedicated to reviews and advertise it on your website and your practice’s social profiles.
    • Don’t ever bribe patients or offer incentives for reviews.
      • While you can and should ask patients to leave reviews, never offer them a reward (beyond saying “thank you”) for doing so. If a reviews platform discovers you are offering incentives for reviews, your reviews site will be shut down—or, even worse, will post a message warning patients that you pay for good reviews. Reviews are only valid if they’re earned—the reason patients trust reviews is because they’re written by others like them who want to share about their service experience.

Follow these simple guidelines and you’ll build credibility and attract more patients.

Want an easy way to get more patient reviews? Discover how to attract more patients with our proven review-building software.

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