- Ensuring a positive patient experience may be the trick to obtaining a five-star online physician review, shows a new survey from technology review site Software Advice.
The survey of 1,438 patients reveals that more patients are looking at online physician reviews, with 59 percent of respondents doing so at least sometimes, and are using what they read to make decisions about their healthcare.
Seventy-seven percent of respondents use online physician reviews before selecting a new provider and 16 percent use them after seeing a provider for the first time.
“These results show that online reviews do play a role in patient retention. But it’s clear that most patients are consulting reviews to decide whether they should make a first appointment with a provider,” wrote the report’s author, Gaby Loria, senior market researcher at Software Advice.
“The good news for providers? This means they can leverage reviews sites as marketing channels, and use them to grow their patient population.”
According to Loria, providers may want to focus on building more positive reviews rather than worry about mitigating negative ones.
The survey shows that positive reviews are more influential than negative ones. Forty-five percent of respondents are moderately likely to choose a provider based off positive reviews. Thirty-eight percent said they are very likely and 11 percent extremely likely to do the same.
Conversely, 31 percent said they disregard reviews that seem fake or hyperbolic, while 30 percent said they disregard reviews if the patient’s demands seem unreasonable.
As a result, it is important that providers focus on delivering high quality care and building patient satisfaction, Loria said. While it is natural to worry about negative reviews, patients are more likely to be swayed by increasing reports of quality care delivery.
In fact, quality care and patient experience are some of the metrics patients value the most when viewing online reviews. According to the survey, 28 percent of patients value information about care quality when looking at online reviews. Twenty-three percent feel the same about patient experience reports.
Very few (2 percent) patients cared about seeing pictures or hearing descriptions of the facility environment, showing that it is the patient-provider care interaction that makes all of the difference.
Forty-three percent of respondents specifically seek out information about a provider’s diagnosis accuracy. Twenty percent want information about a provider’s listening skills and 16 percent about a provider’s ability to explain health concepts to them.
Thirty-two percent of patients wanted to hear about staff friendliness, 22 percent about appointment scheduling ease, 18 percent about payment and billing processes, and 16 percent about wait time.
And while the survey shows that 50 percent of patients are leaving those influential positive reviews, it also shows that 31 percent are not leaving reviews at all. According to Loria, this leaves significant room for growth.
“Our survey shows that medical practices must keep an eye on their existing online reviews,” Loria wrote. “But providers should also be proactive about recruiting more, lest they miss opportunities to attract or retain patients.”
Physicians can encourage more patients to leave positive reviews by making links to these website more readily available, Loria suggested. Physicians may insert review websites into their email signatures, and practice leaders should put these links in a clearly labeled section of its website.
Additionally, offices can make online review software available during the discharge process.
Ultimately, providers should continue to prioritize positive patient experience and satisfaction, Loria concluded. By keeping this in mind from start to finish of care encounters, healthcare professionals may increase their odds of receiving a positive online review.