Patient reviews: nearly everything you need to know

Belmar Health Blog

Patient reviews can do two things for you.

Bring you more patients, or bring you no new patients.

There’s nothing hidden in between the lines. They love your care or they don’t. We’ll touch on the quality of your care later on but let’s talk about reviews for a little.

Dissecting Patient Reviews

“Your goal as a Doctor is to provide optimal experiences for patients, leaving no room for negative reviews.”

 

Even though there are two primary outcomes of a patient review there are many reasons a patient leaves you a review in the first place. Let’s take a look at some popular ones.

Reason #1: They’re thankful
Not only will they be thankful that you provided your service, but that you did it with a good attitude or went the extra mile to make them feel comfortable. Patients who come for an appointment, and receive a notable experience will always leave your practice feeling thankful for you.

Reason #2: They’re upset
There could be a number of reasons a patient becomes upset and leaves a bad review. Since you can’t please everyone who comes through your practice the best you can do, is the best you can do. Instead of letting these negative reviews dictate your care, deploy kindness and reply to them seeking a solution.

Reason #3: They’re Misinformed
This can easily happen when the communication in your office is broken. When a patient becomes misinformed it’s because of scheduling errors, not having the 411 on what’s happening, and generally feeling out of the loop. So, they’ll likely leave a negative review but confronting the situation is the fastest way to make it a positive review.

Knowing these three primary reasons for a patient leaving a review can place you in a really great spot. That’s because you’re able to control 100% of the outcome in every scenario whether its a positive or negative one.

We mentioned deploying kindness. Bearing bad news regarding financials on your care or anything else is easily digested better by patients when you’re kind about it. If it’s anything but kindness, your reviews will just expose you.

Something to note is that positive reviews and experiences take the majority:

Source: Doctible

The Most popular Physician review sites

Chances are you already have an individual or company profile on quite a few websites that allow patients to leave a review on the quality of your care. If not then you should know the places where patients go to do so.

Yelp for Physicians

We’re going to talk about Yelp first. If your practice is listed on Yelp and you have verified your account then you or someone who handles your marketing has spoken with one of their representatives. Yelp truly believes that they are the secret-sauce to growing your practice and that other forms of healthcare digital marketing are Meh.

Their aggressive sales tactics encourage you to start paying for Ads after you have a couple reviews. Based off of our experiences we have maintaining physician profiles the only right time to pay for Yelp Ads is when you’re trying to expand reach into new cities, even then you should really sit down with your marketing people to see if Yelp ads are right for you. However, if you do choose to run Advertisements on Yelp this can all be managed from their mobile app.

Otherwise, your positive reviews on Yelp will carry you organically in their top ten city lists for the best Doctors. These lists that they generate look like this:

Top ten {Specialty Name} in {City Name}

and you make that list by the quality of reviews, not quantity. In some instances, a physician can be number one on this list and only have six reviews while their competitor is #2 or #3 and they have triple the number of reviews.

Keeping your Yelp profile up to date and clean is even more important in the wake of voice search. Voice search is when someone uses an artificial assistant like Siri or Amazon’s Alexa to perform a search query. An example could be “Is there a good dentist nearby?”. The results will be pulled from Yelp data.

Create a Yelp profile for your practice 

Google My Business

Google My Business (GMB) is offered by the king of search themselves, Google. It’s free to use but before patients can find your listing through organic searches you’ll need to verify your account by phone or mail.

After you verify your GMB profile you will be able to add photos, updates, and vital info about your physical location that will help potential patients find you easier.

Google My Business and Yelp definitely have their similarities. One of our favorites is being able to reply directly to patients after they leave a review. If you spend enough time in the Google My Business dashboard the absence of frequent ads, to buy ads, is delightful.

In a nutshell, Google My Business gives you a ton of control over your practices online image and the impression you’ll give off when patients find you through a Google search. Google My Business even has their own mobile app that makes it easy to manage your listing on the fly, make sure to download it here.

Create a GMB listing for your practice 

Facebook

If you don’t already have a Facebook page you need to go create one right now.

Because in order to make use of Facebook reviews your practice needs a page where patients can go to do so. If you have the Facebook Reviews feature activated on your page then your overall rating will be displayed near the top under your practice name.

And Statista.com stated that Facebook had 2.2 Billion active users as of Q4 in 2017.

Your patients already use Facebook as it is. Having this feature activated on your pages gives patients the opportunity to rate your care in an environment that is already familiar.

Create a Facebook page for your practice 

Healthgrades

Healthgrades stands out in the crowd of review sites and profiles we’ve already mentioned. As you could imagine by their name, Healthgrades is for Healthcare.

On Healthgrades you have access to a free profile that you can manage with limited options and even interact with patients who leave reviews. One obvious drawback of a free profile on Healthgrades is you won’t be using it to schedule with patients.

The scheduling features within Healthgrades is more suited for physician groups and hospitals. Healthgrades is a community of accessible tools and services for providers to scale their care. Their website receives more than 1 million visitors a day.

Create a Healthgrades profile for yourself 

There are a handful of other reviews sites that you should consider as a provider. For Yelp, GMB, Facebook & Healthgrades they all can be easily found through organic searches.

When patients are searching with intent to schedule an appointment the results organically rank like so:

#1 Google My Business

#2 Yelp

#3 Healthgrades

#4 Facebook (Facebook heavily fluctuates with a few other websites we have not mentioned here)

That ranking order is common across the line in healthcare and is why we elaborated on them specifically.

So which sites should you spend time with and create a profile on? All of them. Every single one. Yes, it’s great that GMB, Yelp, Facebook, and Healthgrades completely dominate – but you don’t know the behavior patterns for every patient online. So investing time in places like Rate MD’s, Vitals, Care Dash, and Angie’s List won’t hurt.

“Don’t assume that prioritizing a single website for patient reviews means a better outcome. Multiple sites create the opportunity for a higher overall review volume.”

 

Note that the profiles and sites we mentioned will only outshine other sites if your profiles are active, verified, and up to date. If you only spend time with Vitals for example then your Vitals profile will most likely appear before any slice of info on other sites.

It’s okay to ask for reviews

Did you know you can ask a patient for a review without literally asking them for a review?

Yes.

Asking a patient who you just treated for a review can make you feel like you’re intruding on their privacy – or they could feel the same way.

Truth is it’s not but use your best judgment on the timing when asking a patient for a review.

Good timing Scenario: You just finished a routine check-up and ask Sarah, mother of two, to leave a review on Yelp.

Bad timing Scenario: You just found a life-threatening illness in Sarah’s blood and ask her to leave a review on Yelp.

See what we’re getting at? Asking for a review on any site is okay but only in the right setting.

If you’re too nervous to ask your patients for reviews then that’s okay too because there are a few automated tactics you can set up.

Tactic 1: Online Payments

If a patient is fulfilling their invoice online, that means they previously visited your practice. So why not ask for a review?

Following a successful payment from the patient, you can redirect them to a page where you kindly ask for a review.

It can be designed like so in web page or lightbox form:

When the button is clicked you can direct the patient to a website of your choice where you feel there need to be more reviews!

Tactic 2: Email Newsletter

This one is constantly misinterpreted. The idea is not to send an email soliciting reviews for your practice.

Rather, create an email list for existing patients and regularly send them helpful tips regarding the type of care that you provide. At the bottom of these emails create a section where it’s CLEAR that you would appreciate a review from the existing patient who received the email.

That email can be structured like so:

 

Feel free to use the template we created above for your patients 🙂

Tactic 3: Micro Incentives

In the macro running incentives isn’t a game plan that sustains itself, which is why we call them micro incentives. This strategy should only be used for desperate measures when you need a lot of reviews, and fast.

Eventually, you will run out of incentives, or have to create internal systems to track who received their incentive gift for leaving a review. It can become a mess! Incentives can be $5 Gift Cards or an entry to win a prize. If you are doing a prize drawing make sure that the prize is something people will actually want.

Here is data from an Incentive Review Campaign we ran recently using an existing list of patient emails on Mailchimp:

Each of these strategies will require a direct link to leave a review for your care. Since we have already touched on Yelp, GMB, and Healthgrades we will teach you how to create links that will take patients directly to a page where they can do so for each of these websites.

How to create a Review Link for Yelp

Step 1. Go to your practices Yelp profile
Step 2. Click Write a Review
Step 3. Click and copy the URL at the top of the page

Done!

How to create a Review Link for Google My Business

Step 1. Go to your practices GMB listing after searching for it
Step 2. Click on Write a review
Step 3. Click and copy the URL at the top of your page

Done!

How to create a Review Link for Healthgrades

Step 1. From your physician dashboard click on the blue star icon
Step 2. Go to Patient Experience
Step 3. Go to Resources
Step 4. Within the Patient Satisfaction Link Generator Section, choose the copy icon to copy the link

Done!

These links are vital when you’re asking for reviews so that the patient can be immediately taken to the page necessary to leave a review. Most other review websites offer options to create review links as well.

The best care wins

Earlier we said we’d touch on the quality of care.

Now is that time, so hopefully you’re still here with us.

Have you ever used a product that has been so good that you couldn’t help but to tell the company you purchased from how much you loved it? It could be anything too – a water bottle, mattress, or even an electronic device.

That needs to happen with your new and existing patients. From the second they schedule an appointment, to arriving, and leaving the experiences they have with you will make an impression that lasts.

Kindness, empathy, patience, and listening needs to be the forefront of your care 365 days a year. If you do, worrying about reviews will never become an issue.