When you think about your healthcare practice’s digital marketing efforts, social media, paid search/organic search, and blogging are probably top of mind. If it’s not already, review management should also be a top item on your digital marketing priorities list. This is because reviews are integral to your healthcare practice’s marketing efforts.
The Importance of Responding to Patient Reviews
Online reviews carry a lot of power. Great reviews can instill confidence in new patients, improve your healthcare practice’s reputation, and ultimately earn more patients. Negative reviews are just as influential. They can cause potential patients to avoid your healthcare practice altogether, damaging your reputation and hindering your practice’s growth potential. With nearly nine out of 10 people checking reviews for local businesses, managing reviews is a critical opportunity your healthcare practice cannot afford to ignore.
Patient reviews are a form of earned media. Earned media is any material created about your healthcare practice that your practice hasn’t paid for or made. According to Nielsen, earned media is the most trusted form of advertising. This is because people rely heavily on the opinions and experiences of others to influence what they should do.
How do reviews influence consumers?
Online reviews are more influential than you initially may think. In fact:
- 86% of consumers read reviews for local businesses (including 95% of people aged 18-34)
- Consumers won’t engage with any company with less than a 3.3 minimum star rating
- An average of 10 online reviews are read before a consumer feels confident in trusting a local business
- 63.6% of consumers say they are likely to check online reviews on Google before visiting a business
- 57% of consumers will only choose a business that has four or more stars
- 94% of consumers say an online review has convinced them to avoid a company
- 93% of consumers say online reviews impact purchase decisions
- 89% of consumers read a business’s responses to reviews
How do patient reviews improve your practice’s online visibility?
Reviews are Keyword Rich
When leaving reviews, patients write about your services to Google by sharing their experiences. Those reviews include keywords that help boost your local SEO efforts.
Reviews Boost Click Through-Rates
Reviews can significantly affect click-through rates, especially if your healthcare practice receives positive feedback regularly. Aside from word-of-mouth, research shows that ratings and reviews are the number one factor new patients refer to when choosing between local healthcare practices – and more than 50% of people pass up practices with less than a 4-star rating if they can. Ultimately, the better your reviews are, the more confident new patients feel about visiting your website and scheduling an appointment.
Responding to Patient Reviews
While some healthcare practices don’t closely monitor their reviews, responding to reviews gives you important opportunities – including fostering positivity with happy patients and resolving conflict with dissatisfied patients. While responding to reviews can be time-consuming, showing you value the feedback you’re receiving is essential. But you need to know how to respond in the right way.
HIPAA Compliance and Responding to Patient Reviews
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, protects patients’ privacy. As a healthcare practice, HIPAA compliance affects how you respond to patient reviews. When responding to patients’ reviews — positive or negative — do not confirm the reviewer is a patient in your response. Even if the review makes it clear the person is, in fact a patient, your responses should never confirm that.
How to Respond to Positive Reviews
If your healthcare practice has received a positive review, you’ll want to craft a response by following these three steps:
Step 1. Respond Promptly
Your healthcare practice must regularly monitor your reviews so that you can respond promptly. As a best practice, your healthcare practice should respond to reviewers within 24-48 hours of posting the review. Timely responses to online reviews show that you are actively listening and engaged. A prompt response also shows that you value quality care and feedback.
Step 2. Show Appreciation
An appreciative response doesn’t need to be lengthy to be effective. In fact, short and to-the-point responses work best! Thank the reviewer for the feedback and acknowledge something specific to the review.
Step 3. Reinforce Positivity
When responding to a positive review, reinforce the positive aspects of your practice. This gives you the opportunity to subtly market your practice online.
How to Respond to Negative Patient Reviews
If your healthcare practice has received a negative review, you’ll want to craft a response by following these four steps.
Step 1. Respond Promptly
You must respond promptly (within 24 to 48 hours) to negative reviews. In fact, not responding to negative reviews sends the message to patients that you don’t care about correcting poor experiences. Responding quickly to unhappy patients shows you care about resolving the issue and earning their confidence.
Step 2. Apologize for the Negative Experience
The satisfaction of your patients should be your number one priority. When a patient is upset with your healthcare practice, provide them with an email or phone number that will allow them to get in touch with someone and voice their concerns. Doing this will demonstrate that your practice is making an effort to understand the situation better while maintaining patient confidentiality.
Step 3. Reassure the Patient and Work Toward a Solution
Research shows that 89% of consumers are open to changing a negative review based on how the company responds. The most effective way to handle a negative reviewer is to offer reassurance and to deliver on your promise to make things right. By offering reassurance and actively working towards a solution, the patient may even change their review to share how your practice went above and beyond to make things right.
Step 4. Offer a Way to Connect
To ensure HIPAA compliance and minimize the public view of negative feedback, you don’t want the negative review thread to get too lengthy. Provide the negative reviewer with your practice’s contact information so that you can discuss their poor experience further.
Responding to Reviews on Google
Ready to try all of this for yourself? Here’s how to respond to reviews on Google My Business:
- Sign into your Google My Business Account.
- Open the listing you want to manage and click Reviews on the left-hand menu.
Note: Your healthcare practice’s Google My Business page must be verified to reply to reviews.
- Click Reply to respond to a review.
- Write a response and click Post Reply.