When it comes to online reviews, many of our readers fall into one of two groups. Some ask: “Do online reviews really matter?” However, a growing number are beginning to ask: “Which site for doctor reviews should I focus on first?”
Each year, we stress the importance of monitoring and supplementing your collection of online reviews. This year, we not only stress the importance of quantity, but also the importance of review recency.
Online reviews help new patients find you, as confirmed by our latest annual Healthcare Consumer Insight & Digital Engagement survey. We found that patients are increasingly using rating and review sites to seek doctors. They did so over twice as frequently in 2020 as they did in 2017.
Meanwhile, consumers are using search engines to find a physician 16% more than in 2017. Reviews increase an online listings’ SEO, adding another level of importance to review collection.
Review benefits go beyond patient discovery. Reviews help convince patients to choose you over other local providers. Our survey found that consumers rely less on recommendations from friends and family (-25%) than they did one year previous. In fact, reviews were more important than personal recommendations for respondents under age 23.
Additionally, the recency of online reviews is of greater importance due to COVID-19. Sixty percent of our survey respondents reported changes in their outlook of patient reviews following the outbreak. Nearly one-third say patient reviews were more important to them following the start of the crisis.
For these reasons, we’ve created a list of review sites to guide your focus for 2021. Be sure to focus on at least one of these sites this year. The more you can focus on, the better.
Top Non-Healthcare-Focused Review Sites
Many healthcare consumers are still looking at non-physician focused review sites to find doctors for their health problems. Therefore, the top site for doctor reviews that you need to focus on may not be a doctor review site.
Google My Business
Google is the top by-volume search site on the internet. No other website has the consumer traffic Google has achieved. Claiming and optimizing your Googe My Business (GMB) listing is critical to both appearing in local searches and collecting reviews.
In addition to collecting reviews, your GMB listing also helps you control your practice’s appearance in no-click search results. Additionally, your GMB profile gives you the ability to claim and complete your Maps listings. According to Google, almost 70% of users view businesses with complete listings as more reputable, approachable, and well-established. As a result, completing and optimizing your GMB listings should be a top priority for your practice.
A well-trafficked review section is a critical part of a complete listing, in addition to accurate hours and Maps listings. Luckily, getting reviews on Google is easier than other review sites because of its focus on making the user experience easy.
Reviewers are identified through their Google accounts. Google Reviews ask these users to do three things:
- Rate their experience out of five stars
- Share a detailed free-response description of their experience
- Post a picture, if appropriate
Systems with multiple locations should collect reviews and post pictures of individual locations on each of their local listings. This gives patients an idea of what to expect at each of your unique locations. It also helps to make each location easy to find.
Systems of all sizes can take their listings to the next level by optimizing their profile with search specific SEO terms. This helps your listings to catch patients at the top of most SEO journeys.
If Google is the king of search engines, then Facebook is the king of social media. Facebook allows people to publicly review your locations and providers. In addition, its algorithm will also highlight comments and reviews left by a user’s connections on the network. Therefore, you must claim and optimize your practice’s Facebook Business listing if you have not already.
Facebook is unique among review sites in that it simply asks reviewers if they recommend a business or not. It then asks reviewers to share what they recommend about the business. Recommendations must be a minimum of 25 characters long.
Proper review management is critical on Facebook to ensure that users are seeing positive experiences highlighted among their connections. Be sure to thank your reviewers for their feedback on the platform. Social media is all about relationship building, so be sure this is reflected in your review management strategy.
Many are surprised at how popular the Yellow Pages online listings platform is for healthcare organizations. However, some of our clients at Binary Fountain report a great deal of traffic from the site.
The Yellow Pages is focused on local service providers, which is great for promoting in-personal medical appointments and procedures. Ensure your listings are accurate on this site to take advantage of local search traffic and reviews. Reviews on the Yellow Pages are structured similarly to Google reviews. Reviewers are asked to leave an overall star rating, along with a free-text experience description and optional photo. Reviews are also given the option to give providers star ratings in expertise, facility, and professionalism.
Top Sites for Doctor Reviews
Patients are continuing to embrace healthcare review sites, making almost any healthcare review site an important site for doctor reviews. Of course, it can be hard to decide which site for doctor reviews to focus on first. Below is our list of our suggestions for doctor review sites.
Doctor.com allows providers to list and integrate their online scheduling and telemedicine capabilities on a single platform. The platform helps leading hospitals power their physician directories, manage their online reputation, and improve the overall patient experience. As a result, it’s a particularly critical site for large hospitals and health systems to monitor.
Additionally, it’s a powerful tool for patients, allowing them to search for healthcare providers based on location, specialty, and insurance. It allows them to view both overall ratings and HIPAA compliant reviews for real, verified patients of providers.
Patients are asked to give doctors ratings in the following patient satisfaction categories:
- Willingness to spend time with patients
- Listening Skills
- Clear Explanations
- Trust in Decision Making
- Accuracy of Diagnosis
- Post-visit follow-up
Patients can also rate the office and staff based on the following:
- Ease of getting an appointment
- Appearance and atmosphere of the office
- Courtesy of practice staff
- Handling of billing matters
- Wait time
With over 9 million physician reviews on its site, Healthgrades is another crucial directory for physicians. Healthgrades uses trusted data from the federal government’s National Provider Identifier (NPI) Registry to create profiles for physicians.
Profile information includes:
- Accepted insurance
- Education and credentials
- Services provided, including specialties
- Communication methods, including text, email, online patient portal, and telehealth visits
Patients can leave ratings and a 1,000-character maximum comment under their own names or anonymously. However, they must leave an email address and verify they or a family member received treatment for the doctor being reviewed. Reviewers are also asked to leave optional patient feedback on any of the following factors:
- Physician attentiveness & responses to patient questions
- The office environment
- Wait times
- Trust in the provider’s decisions
- Explanation of conditions
- Staff Friendliness (Bedside Manner)
- Appointment scheduling process
- If the appointment felt rushed or not
Healthgrades also gives providers the opportunity to send patients emails and physical postcards requesting reviews. This is an excellent opportunity to boost your review count on the site and should certainly be utilized.
Similar to Healthgrades, Vitals has over 9 million reviews on its site. It also compiles basic public information about healthcare professionals. It searches medical boards from all 50 states, federal websites, hospitals, doctors, surveys, business alliances, and third-party affiliates.
Vitals listings are centered around displaying information such as:
- Hospital Affiliations
Reviews left on Vitals by patients create a valuable space for understanding the patient experience. You can start responding to your reviews today by simply claiming your profile.
Rate MDs is an intuitive site with 2.6 million provider ratings. This is another site that pulls information from National Provider Identifier Registry. Physicians can easily update their listing by simply claiming their profile.
Patients can leave reviews for both healthcare facilities as well as individual doctors on Rate MDs. All reviews on the site are published anonymously.
Doctor reviews are based on four categories:
Healthcare business reviews are based on:
All categories can be rated on a scale from terrible to excellent and allow for comments up to 50 characters.
CareDash is unique among review sites in several ways. One of the most notable is its requirement for all reviewers to attach their names to their reviews, preventing anonymous reviews. In addition, all reviews are reviewed by a member of the CareDash team for guideline compliance before posting. Non-compliant reviews are sent back to the reviewer, who can amend and re-submit.
This process is meant to add value to CareDash reviews. Unfortunately, it leaves physicians with minimal leeway to remove reviews through appeal. As a result, responding to negative reviews is critical on CareDash.
One final way that CareDash profiles are unique is their use of Patient Experience scores. These scores use feedback from across the internet to calculate numerical scores for a provider’s reputation across key patient experience categories. Be careful not to overlook this unique site for doctor reviews.
U.S. News & World Report
Another site that uses Patient Experience scores is the U.S. News & World Report Doctor Finder directory.
The site doesn’t collect or analyze patient reviews or ratings directly. Instead, reviews are aggregated from other online sites to create scores. Maintaining your volume of recent positive reviews is essential to maintaining high provider Patient Experience scores for your physicians.
Effective review management on the sites above will result in excellent Patient Experience scores on this site. It’s a visual demonstration of how review collection has a positive effect on your overall online reputation.
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