Today’s consumer-driven healthcare setting means patients’ expectations have cultivated a demand for high standards. It makes perfect sense; patients are consumers purchasing provider services and, understandably, they want to know they’re getting the best care for their dollar. To ensure this, they’re doing their research, which means they’re getting online. Knowing your consumer-driven patients are online should be enough to push you to focus on providing great care that ultimately leads to great reviews.
In this guide, we’ll cover the right ways to gain great patient reviews
- Enhance patient satisfaction
- Get your care team on board
- Encourage your patients to review your medical practice
- Motivate staff to gather great reviews
- Find a system that showcases/publishes your success
- Develop a system that keeps it all running smoothly
Here’s why reputation management is so important …
Consumer trends have shown that a staggering 84% of patients use online reviews to determine their choice of physician, and 80% of consumers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. The writing is on the wall: if you don’t have a strong online presence backed by glowing online reviews, your practice growth could suffer for it.
84% of patients use online reviews to determine their choice of physician, and 80% of consumers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.
When healthcare marketing comes directly from your own patients, your medical practice quickly becomes the trusted reference point for potential patients. When potential new patients find your practice online and see a string of happy patient endorsements, these positive words of encouragement communicate that you are a patient-centric provider who places a priority on patient experience and exceptional care. Laying the foundation of trust before a patient ever steps foot inside your practice is a critical way to achieve practice growth.
Now you know the why, but what about the how? There are a lot of medical groups competing for patient attention, and those patients are relentlessly distracted by scores of digital noise. Attracting new patients is challenging and time-consuming, but it’s not impossible. With a little bit of practice insight, some patient experience TLC, and the right technology to support your team, your waiting room will be full before you know it.
Step 1 – Deliver the BEST Patient Experience
Pay attention, because this is THE most important step in converting great patient care into great reviews and referrals. You want to compel your patients to rave about your practice. How do you do that? By elevating your care standards and honing in on the patient journey.
Enhancing the patient experience can be done in many ways. First, consider each step of the patient journey to identify which interactions you can improve.
- Is your information easy to find?
It should be quick and easy for potential patients to find your medical practice information. This includes details pertaining to your specialty, location, contact details, hours of operation, and whether or not you are accepting new patients. The consumer-minded patient is not going to hunt for this information. Remove roadblocks so that this first step in the patient journey is simple, clear, and converts.
- How easily can a patient schedule an appointment?
Additional factors might include how easily a patient can schedule an appointment, whether by phone or on your website, and how soon they can reasonably expect to be seen by a practitioner.
- How are first interactions handled?
Ensure positive phone interactions between patients and staff as well as courteous email communications when confirming appointments. Do new patients know how to find your office, where to park, and how to navigate your building?
- How do you handle workflow bottlenecks?
Determining inefficiencies in your practice operations is key to reducing workflow bottlenecks and ensuring the patient experience is hassle-free. Essential aspects to consider include identifying practice tasks that take too long to complete or upgrading your practice management software to increase productivity. Review each team member’s workload and decide whether you need additional staff or your existing team needs further training support in certain areas. Removing bottleneck barriers to great care is an optimization that will not go unnoticed.
- What is your intake process like?
Once patients have arrived at your practice, ensure each in-office interaction is optimized to make the patient feel welcome and at ease. A receptionist who acknowledges the patient – even if he or she is busy – a comfortable waiting area, and a friendly, inviting atmosphere all go a long way when enhancing the patient journey.
- Are good communication habits built into clinical processes?
When the patient reaches the exam room, an optimal way to continue building upon a top-tier experience is by emphasizing clear communication. Fostering open discussion, shared decision-making, and transparency throughout all of your interactions. Additionally, you can further show that you value your patient’s time by minimizing idle time in the exam room. Each of these touchpoints are easy wins when it comes to patient satisfaction, and will go a long way toward ensuring a meaningful relationship is formed and great care is provided.
Step 2. Get the entire team onboard
When it comes to achieving high patient reviews, patient loyalty, and referrals, you’re all in this together. Here’s the truth, every single person on your practice team has the power to positively impact each patient experience. They also have the power to disrupt that journey.
Your clinical staff already knows the value of good patient reviews and how their role impacts the online “health score” of your practice. But do your administrators, secretaries or billing experts know that their roles also contribute to the overall energy within your practice?
Be direct and clear about your intentions to set the standard for patient care. Ensure that every staff member, from the physician to the receptionist, understands the goal; to gain great practice reviews through enhancement of the patient experience.
Here are some ways each team member can help enhance patient care:
Each receptionist should know how to prioritize a positive patient encounter. Whether in face-to-face interactions or over the phone, the conversation should remain HIPAA compliant, professional, and focused on the patient.
If the receptionist is needed but away from the front desk, and a patient is seen standing alone, waiting, any one of your front office staff should feel empowered to step in regardless of whether it falls within their job function.
Front office staff should offer the patient undivided attention and help with the patient’s next step, such as getting signed in, processing a copay, setting a follow-up appointment, or reaching out to the appropriate colleague for further assistance. These are small but powerful ways to show patients that prompt, consistent care is your utmost concern.
Often overlooked, the back office team, such as billing and coding specialists, records specialists, or administrative staff, can contribute significantly to the patient experience.
Particularly in the billing department, individuals must demonstrate extra care and consideration when discussing statements and balances with patients. Money is universally a delicate subject, and when it comes to the cost of medical care, combined with misunderstandings or changes in benefits and coverages, billing department professionals have to remain neutral and helpful, even if patients are unhappy with the end result.
Medical billing specialists can be most helpful by processing requests accurately and promptly.
Nurses and medical assistants spend the most time one-on-one with patients – often even more so than the physicians themselves. It’s important for team members in these roles to keep in mind that although they’re seeing patients all day every day, medical care is a very personal experience unique to each patient.
Whether the reason for the visit is serious or routine, it’s imperative you set the tone and develop a foundation of trust and connection. Answer patients’ questions sincerely, return their calls promptly and exhibit patience and compassion at every encounter.
Making sure all staff are on the same page when it comes to prioritizing excellent patient care and, subsequently, patient review processes will allow you to streamline the approach and maximize the effects of generating positive online reviews.
Step 3. Encourage patients to leave feedback
Complementary to delivering stellar patient care is encouraging your patients to leave reviews where they’re likely to be seen. Popular review sites that also offer reputable, high-visibility online resources are appreciated by patients for the comprehensive information provided about physicians.
Ensuring patients have essential details such as practitioner experience, location, availability, reviews and more is the driving force behind platforms like Healthgrades and ZocDoc. With millions of patient users accessing these sites every day to find doctors and book appointments, your practice should be part of networks like these that offer a vital opportunity to strengthen your reputation and attract new patients. If your practice isn’t registered with either of these websites, it’s highly recommended that you join as soon as possible. You’ll need to take ownership of creditable online spaces in order to help your practice thrive.
Sign up for reputable review sites
Fortunately, the process of signing up your medical practice with each of these websites is basic and straightforward. To sign up for a Healthgrades account, simply visit their account registration page, complete the remaining fields, and choose ‘register now.’ To claim or create a ZocDoc profile, head on over to their joining page and review your pricing options. Then, complete the ‘Join ZocDoc’ form and wait for the confirmation page to notify you that an authorized representative will be in touch for your free demo.
You may also find the crowd-sourced review site Yelp to be beneficial, due to its widespread familiarity among well-informed consumers. Yelp’s platform permits reviews of all kinds and practice managers do not have the ability to remove reviews that don’t paint the practice in the greatest light.
Instead of this being a reason to dread a negative review, it could actually be used to your advantage. Most Yelp users know and appreciate that the site won’t remove a bad review, so if a potential patient sees that all your Yelp reviewers have left you 5-stars, they’ll know the rating is genuine.
Don’t be afraid of bad reviews!
On the flip side, imagine you do receive a negative review. Being prepared for this inevitability will help you take it in stride. Tactful responses to negative reviews are something savvy consumer-minded patients look for.
This could be a great opportunity to show both the reviewer and potential new patients that you take patient experiences seriously.
Interpret the review simply as neutral feedback. Use your reply as an opportunity to reframe your practice as one that cares about every patient, even if they didn’t feel their experience was reason enough to leave a highly-rated review.
Motivate staff to gather those great reviews
While it is never recommended that you incentivize patients to provide favorable reviews, incentives can be a highly effective way to motivate your staff to elicit them. Team incentive programs based on the number of review requests sent out or on positive reviews obtained would depend on your operational preferences, just be sure to implement safeguards to maintain the integrity of the program.
Actual patients (not staff’s friends or family members) should be the ones leaving reviews in order to qualify your team for employee incentives. Once the goal is met, the reward should be something everyone can enjoy, like an office party or a special group night out.
Develop a system to keep it all running smoothly
On the operational side, be sure to develop a process for obtaining patient reviews. The simplest, most direct way to do this is to assign the check-out staff to ask patients for reviews on their way out. However, if this method interrupts your practice’s workflows, there are plenty of other techniques.
- Start with a follow-up email
Try including review requests in the appointment follow-up email. When the automated follow up email goes out to the patient, messaging can be customized to ask for a review about their care.
Be sure to add the patient’s first name to personalize the request, thank them for their time, and include a direct link to your preferred review platform. It can be helpful to also include a sample review in the email, so your patients get a sense of what you’re looking for when they get to the review site.
- Include a reminder on your website
Adding a review link on your practice website is an easy, efficient way to create an additional channel for positive patient reviews. While your patient is already there setting an appointment, paying a bill, or accessing their medical records, they can also use the convenient link to offer feedback on their recent experience.
To remind your patients that your practice values reviews, place the link in a place of high visibility on the website, such as a banner, sidebar, or on a page that receives a lot of traffic.
- Ask your social media followers to participate
Social media is a great way for practices to market themselves, interact with patients outside the office, and receive great patient feedback. Many patients spend time on social media already, so it makes perfect sense to provide practice updates, answer health questions, and engage with them on these platforms.
If you have patients that regularly interact with your posts on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, consider asking them if they’d mind leaving you a review. Create a post that links them directly to your practice website, or your preferred review site.
REMEMBER: you’ll need to share this request more than once, so don’t be afraid to re-post. Algorithms and busy followers mean not every review request will be seen, so test engagement and response by sharing your posts on different days and times.
Regardless of the platform, capturing a satisfactory patient review can be quick and easy if you utilize patient experience software, like Breeze. Obtaining the review itself can be as simple as designating a tablet at or near the check-out desk, with a review application already installed and waiting for input.
By acting on the momentum of the first-rate care they just received, this technique makes it as easy as possible for delighted patients to leave positive feedback about your practice while taking very little of their time or effort.
In today’s patient-centric digital age, the best way to attract new patients is to nurture a diverse supply of great reviews. Poor reviews, or worse – no reviews – can keep your practice from growing and thriving. Providing excellent care worthy of rave reviews and incorporating patient review processes into your practice operations are two important factors in developing a sustainable pipeline of positive online reviews.
When you encourage happy patients to contribute, make it as seamless and convenient as possible. By converting great patient care into great patient reviews, you’ll be well on your way to practice growth and success.
Download the Patient Experience Playbook