In this series, Binary Fountain offers its staff expertise to answer common questions about healthcare reputation management.
In this post, George LaDue, Senior Director for Enterprise Sales, tackles questions related to managing reviews for healthcare providers.
How important is review management in healthcare?
George LaDue: In today’s world, it is a necessity for brand reputation to maintain and control your online presence as a physician or healthcare provider. With almost 80% of patients now getting online to search for their provider, the impact is clear. However, the degree to which this has an impact depends on the specialty. As an example, a radiologist is seldom searched for online, compared to something more common like an orthopedic surgeon.
How do reviews relate to brand visibility?
Reviews and ratings make up a critical component of every patient’s search. Conduct a simple search for a provider, and you will see all the different sites that will be returned in an online search. Having increased reviews on Google or your own website can also lead to increased search engine optimization and brand promotion. Review signals are one of the primary search ranking factors in any local search.
Can bad reviews and ratings ruin your reputation?
Absolutely. Think about the beginning phase of the patient journey when they need to seek healthcare options.
Initially, they may search for their symptoms online to decide if they can resolve the issue via home remedies, or if they need to see a physician.
Next, if they need to see a doctor, they might look at their health insurer’s website to see who is in their network.
Additional factors include proximity, how far they are willing to travel. This may depend on the severity of the issue and if they only have access to public transportation. Availability of appointments and how quickly they need to be seen will also factor in.
After those, if they still have options (which they most likely will), they will look to the experiences of other patients. This is where reviews and ratings come in. If physician A has a 1.2 average star rating, and physician B has a 4.3 average star rating, this can lead to a bad reputation.
It’s a pretty simple decision for that patient to elect to go with physician B to make that appointment.
It is not wise to ignore this. We often see many health systems recognize that these online ratings may not fairly represent that provider’s reputation and will take action to improve their online presence.
How should managers respond to negative reviews?
It depends on the severity of the negativity contained in the review. Make responding to patient concerns a priority and you will maintain a good online reputation.
To do this, first take the conversation offline. If you are not able to do this, remember to comply with HIPAA guidelines in public-facing responses. Most importantly, respond timely and empathetically. And lastly, remember to thank reviewers for positive feedback.
What about fake, fraudulent or bad faith reviews? How do you find them, and what can you do about them?
You are able to flag reviews as inappropriate if they fall within specific guidelines on a given listings site. How can you spot a fake review? Fake reviews sometimes have one or more of the following attributes:
- A phone number or web address and asks readers to take an action that has nothing to do with your business.
- Avatars with vague imagery or stock photography. Accounts with these types of visuals have often been created for the sole purpose of posting fake reviews.
- Incorrect grammar or multiple spelling errors.
- A review about current or past employment.
- Contains general political, social commentary, or personal rants.
- Contains sensational claims of harm.
What are some advantages of review management services?
Time savings is one of the biggest, most tangible results of a review management service. Another is the ability to be aware of what is being said about your provider online. Service recovery in a timely manner is another. And finally, improving your online presence – all of these lead to more visibility online, more interest, more appointments, more revenue and ultimately, a better patient experience.
At Binary Fountain, healthcare reputation management is a major area a major focus of our organization. We work with over 300 health care organizations, including six of the top 10 health systems in the U.S. In all, we’re monitoring 900,000 physicians.
All of that experience leads to us being able to consult with these healthcare organizations on what has the biggest impact on reputation.
We offer a holistic platform in patient experience and online brand management that enables our clients to really handle that online patient journey through one centralized dashboard.
That is a big component, and we commonly hear it is not just the simple monitoring of online reviews and responding centrally that matters. Any reputation management technology or tool might have that out there. But taking a step further and really learning from what our patients saying through these online reviews makes the difference.
We can ask: What are they saying, and where can we improve? Whether it’s at a physician-level or an operational level, the location or the brand, focusing on the areas that they really need to put attention on and even comparing those against the competition can give an organization an advantage. Conversely, there are areas you may be excelling in that you should be promoting.
There are many different strategic ways you can use the data analytics that we provide. You really will not see that elsewhere out there in the online reputation management space.
To see part 1 of this Ask an Expert interview with George LaDue, click here.
About the Author
George helps healthcare organizations better understand their healthcare consumer challenges and needs, in order to efficiently manage and improve patient satisfaction.