At a Glance
- Online reviews are vital for medical practices to attract new patients, and recency and volume of reviews impact search rankings.
- Practices should make leaving reviews very easy through multiple channels like emails, texts, website links, and QR codes.
- Google reviews are especially powerful, as 81% of people use Google to evaluate businesses.
While word of mouth recommendations are great, online reviews carry more weight when it comes to influencing the opinions of current and prospective patients. Today, the vast majority of people seeking healthcare providers turn to online reviews to help make their decision.
For net new patient acquisition, practices must have a strategy in place for generating consistent online reviews. Below, we look more closely at the necessity of online reviews for practice growth.
Why getting patient reviews is essential to practice growth
According to a recent Tebra survey, 77% of patients find online reviews “very or extremely important.”
“According to a recent Tebra survey, 77% of patients find online reviews “very or extremely important.” ”
Patients care not just about a business’ average rating but about how timely the reviews are. The same Tebra survey found that 43% of people say recency of the reviews is the most important consideration, while 38% said the average star rating was.
For medical practices, this means that a few knock-out 4-star reviews from last year won’t be enough to keep you relevant. Practices need an ongoing strategy to get more reviews from patients.
Online reviews also play a pivotal role in how the search engine results pages (SERPs) rank your business. While Google remains quiet about the exact algorithm it uses, the company has shared that it considers 3 factors to rank local businesses: relevance, distance (or proximity), and prominence. Google determines this last factor, prominence, based on the number of reviews and the average ranking of your business — meaning that more reviews and positive ratings will improve your practice’s local ranking.
More patient reviews are a must for any medical practice looking to attract new patients and remain relevant in the SERPs.
How to get more online reviews
1. Make it easy to leave reviews, and provide multiple ways to do so
Many patients are happy to leave reviews but fail to do so because of their own busy schedules. To counter this, simplify the process for patients leaving reviews. Make sure your business is easy to find on the web by claiming your profile across sites like Google Business, Yelp, Healthgrades, and more.
“Offer multiple ways to leave reviews, such as via automated post-care emails or text messages, through a form on your website, and via a QR code on posters around the check-in window and lobby. ”
Offer multiple ways to leave reviews, such as via automated post-care emails or text messages, through a form on your website, and via a QR code on posters around the check-in window and lobby.
Practices can also include a section on their website dedicated to Google reviews and provide a link to leave a review there, too. Consider highlighting a few exceptional online reviews and include 2 buttons below them that say “read all reviews” and “leave review.”
2. Use automated reminders to encourage patients to leave reviews
Reminders can go a long way when it comes to getting reviews from patients. First, have the front office staff let patients know you’d love for them to leave a review.
Next, include a link to your Google business profile, Yelp page, Healthgrades profile, or other review site in an automated follow-up text message or email requesting a review. Practices can also include links on all other correspondences with a friendly note that says how appreciative the practice is of patient feedback.
3. Respond to all reviews
Patients will be more inclined to leave reviews if they feel the practice values their feedback. Acknowledging reviews with a concise response is a simple habit to adopt to encourage patient feedback, all the while supporting practice growth.
While some medical practices choose not to respond to reviews for fear of inadvertently violating HIPAA, more than half of respondents to our recent survey said they would be ‘not very’ or ‘not at all’ likely to use a business that doesn’t respond to reviews at all.
“More than half of respondents to a recent survey said they would be 'not very' or 'not at all' likely to use a business that doesn't respond to reviews at all. ”
4. Provide an excellent patient experience
Many businesses believe customers are more likely to leave reviews about unfavorable experiences, but the opposite is true. BrightLocal’s recent Local Consumer Review Survey found that 67% of people will consider leaving a review for a positive experience, while 40% will consider leaving a review for a negative experience.
Part of your strategy for procuring more reviews should center around providing a superb experience that patients would be inclined to share about. With numerous touch points across the patient journey, everyone in the office plays a role in ensuring an excellent visit.
How to get Google reviews from patients
There’s no doubt about the power of Google reviews from a patient or practice’s perspective. Medical care-specifc review sites like Healthgrades are important, too, but they tend to be more niche.
Meanwhile, customers turn to Google reviews more than any other site when it comes to evaluating businesses. In a recent year, 81% of people used Google to evaluate businesses, up from 63% the year before, according to BrightLocal.
Practices would be pleased to receive positive reviews across any review site, but it makes sense to focus efforts in procuring more Google reviews. Start by ensuring you’ve claimed your Google business profile.
Next, swap out any links that you’re using to other sites with ones for Google reviews. Double-check all automated reminder messages, follow-up correspondences, and QR codes to confirm these links open a window where patients can leave a Google rating and review. Encouraging patients to leave Google reviews can be as simple as asking patients to do so and simplifying the process for them.
Support practice growth with regular patient reviews
Attracting new patients in the digital age requires a different toolkit than simply relying on word-of-mouth referrals. Practices need a simple strategy to consistently secure new reviews from patients, both to keep their online presence relevant in the search engine results pages and make a positive impression on prospective patients.
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75% of people look online to find a doctor. Patients take a critical look at web presence, online business profiles, and reviews when they decide to pick a health provider. Learn where your practice should be online in the 2023 Patient Perspectives report.