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Online Patient Reviews – A Core Piece of Healthcare Marketing

online patient reviews medical marketing

Can we agree that it helps your practice if your patients say nice things about you to other people? If we can, then you’ll agree that getting and publishing patient reviews online should be prioritized highly in your healthcare marketing.

Having a good reputation has ALWAYS mattered

This blog is about publicizing your reputation online. Having a good reputation has always mattered. This is true whether you’ve just opened your practice or have been practicing for many years.

Let me say here that an in-person referral is the best referral. Always has been. Always will be. However, few practices get enough new patients through in person referrals. Most practices need new patients who haven’t been referred to them. Since most people start their search for new products and services online, you have to include being online in your healthcare marketing.

Online reviews matter in healthcare

According to BrightLocal’s Local Consumer Review Survey 2017, an annual survey of over 1,000 US consumers, reviews are read about the medical/healthcare category more often than almost every other industry surveyed.

online reviews medical practice marketing

In addition, veterinarians, cosmetic procedures, and chiropractors/alt. health are also in the survey. Clearly, potential patients are reading reviews about you.

Who would you call first and why?

Not convinced that you need to make getting online reviews part of your healthcare marketing? Then let’s go through a brief exercise together.

Imagine you were searching for a new orthodontist in Naperville, Illinois. Here are three orthodontists who practice there. If you ONLY knew the following about each orthodontist, who would you call first?

Dr. A has been a practicing orthodontist for 10 years, Dr. B for 20 years, and Dr. C for 26 years. Each orthodontist went to a good dental school, is board certified, has office hours that fit your schedule, takes your insurance, and is within five miles of your home.

Who would you call first? I usually get an “I don’t know”. Why? Because the information makes them all sound very similar.

NOW who would you call first and why?

Drs. A, B, and C are shown again below. I’m keeping them anonymous. None of them are my clients. I’ve never met them.

Now imagine the same scenario – you’re searching for a new orthodontist in Naperville, Illinois. If you ONLY saw this search result, who would you call first?

medical practice marketing online patient reviews

The most common answer is Frey Orthodontics. Why? Frey has 125 reviews with an average rating of 4.8 out of 5 stars. Frey seems to have prioritized publishing online reviews in their healthcare marketing.

It’s crazy! All three orthodontists must have strong reputations. You can’t be in practice for at least 10 years unless you’re good at what you do. Kowalczyk and Engleman both have a 5 star average rating. Yet, most people would call Frey first. They get the first chance to get that new patient. All we see are the stars.

Best practice #1 – make reviews easy to read and easy to find

Hopefully you agree with the importance of having a good number of online reviews. Now what? What do you do to get the most out of your online reviews?

First, make them easy to find and easy to read. Here are two examples of reviews online that follows both:

Why are these easy to read? It gives the reader what she wants at a glance:

  • She sees names. Readers of reviews don’t like anonymous reviews. They wonder if the review was left by the practice. Trust me, it happens.
  • She sees dates. Readers want a date. The more recent the better (more below)
  • She sees the number of stars. Stars are used just about everywhere. Readers can look at it and tell instantly what the reviewer meant. The reader doesn’t have to think hard.

Why are these reviews easy to find? They’re on Google (look at the Google “G” next to the name) and on the website. You can’t see that from this picture, but trust me, the reviews are on both. The point is that the reviews are NOT only on your website. They’re also on a very popular place where your prospective patients go. Google and Facebook are slam dunks. Bing is coming along. Yelp will continue to factor in for some time. Your specific specialty may have other review sites.

Best Practice #2 – have new reviews

People who read reviews don’t want old reviews. How old is too old? Here’s the BrightLocal survey results:

online reviews medical practice marketing

We see a pretty significant drop off after the 2 – 3 month range. BrightLocal says that readers think older reviews aren’t relevant to the business anymore. What does “relevant” mean? They don’t say. I think of it this way: if someone rated your service with 5 stars just last week, then I feel like I’ll probably also get 5 star service. After all, it was just last week. What could have changed in only a week? However, if the most recent rating was 6 months ago…my perception is that something could have changed in your practice. You don’t want that perception about your practice. If a competitor of yours has more recent 5 star reviews, I don’t wonder as much if I’ll also get 5 star treatment.

Implementing online reviews in your practice

Implementing online reviews in your healthcare marketing should be systematic. Your system needs to cover:

  1. Who will ask for a review?
  2. How will we phrase the ask?
  3. When will the patient be asked?
  4. What tool will we use to make it easy for patients to leave us a review where we want them to leave it? (Google, Facebook, etc.)
  5. How do we respond to positive and negative reviews?

Here’s the pitch (shocking, right?)

At MarketVisory Group we offer a service to help you implement an online review system into your healthcare marketing. The system follows the best practices I’ve described. It also has other useful features. There’s a one time set up process. You pay monthly. Once the system is set up it fits into your daily routine.

If you want to get the ball rolling, start with a free scan of your online reviews here . You’ll get a report, I’ll get notified, and then I’ll call you. We’ll go from there.

Overall, whether we work together, you use someone else, or you do it yourself, make sure that you follow these guidelines when implementing online reviews into your healthcare marketing.