Online Reviews Impact How Patients Select Hospitals and Doctors

03/20/2019 in Blog

Statistics are now proving what we’ve known for a long time: Online reviews play a significant role in patient acquisition and retention.

The rapid proliferation of social sharing and consumer reviews has transformed the way patients select providers. More and more patients are using online reviews to compare physicians, healthcare brands, and facilities before scheduling an appointment. And this type of research is now readily available through sites like Healthgrades, Yelp, Facebook, and Google.
Today, a prospective patient can make a well-informed assessment before even walking into her first appointment.

With the rise of consumerism, the healthcare industry has undergone a fundamental shift, and your marketing efforts have changed as well, from being provider-focused to more patient-focused. Today more than ever, it is imperative to understand patients’ attitudes towards online reviews.

Consumer trends show:

Simply put, consumers are doing their homework online before choosing a physician or healthcare facility. Star ratings and comments, as well as review responses from doctors and hospitals, are the most popular way for consumers to estimate the experience they will receive from a healthcare provider. 

Another important set of facts that marketers need to keep top of mind is that 77% of patients use search engines prior to booking appointments. Visitors to hospital websites are 3x more likely to access the site through a search engine than any other means. The top Google result receives 33% more clicks than any other listings on the search results page. So, Google ranking should be a major priority for hospitals and health systems in competitive markets. Encouraging reviews by consumers and responses from providers greatly improves a brand’s chances of a more favorable ranking in search.

While data support the importance of online reviews in healthcare, it’s merely reinforcing several tried-and-proven marketing concepts: 

Brand visibility, recognition, and reputation are powerful revenue multipliers. 

Patients are consumers. Consumers are patients. They want the best possible overall experience when seeking care. Hospitals that offer a superior customer experience can expect to achieve up to 50% higher margins. The correlation between satisfied patients and higher profit margins has been growing over time, and the trend is expected to continue. 

Online reviews in healthcare are here to stay. Because the experience your patients have today may become the deciding factor for a new patient tomorrow, it is imperative to take steps now to make your patients happy. 

What steps can healthcare organizations and providers take to ensure a healthy financial future?
1. Monitor your brand’s reputation online
2. Engage with your target audience
3. Respond to reviews
4. Encourage new positive reviews

Are you asking yourself, “Where do I start?”  Addressing your online reputation can be an overwhelming task for any organization − especially for already busy healthcare marketers. By partnering with a team experienced in online listings and reputation management, you’ll be in a much better position to manage online reviews. Look for a partner that provides real-time insights into what’s being said about your brand online and includes tools to monitor, solicit, and respond to reviews.
Want to learn more about how reviews impact your brand’s local search presence? Read our ebook: The Quest to Be Found.