Online Reviews Can Have a Big Impact on Your Practice

That smiling face at the reception desk may be your patient’s first — and very important — experience with your practice, but likely it’s not their first impression.

Your patient probably learned a thing or two about you online before stepping into your office. (Or, if he or she couldn’t find you online, that may have left the patient with a negative impression about you as well).

A survey exploring how patients use online reviews found that 84 percent of respondents use online reviews to evaluate physicians at least some of the time. The survey was conducted by Software Advice, a free service that helps buyers find the right software.

The survey also revealed that:

  • More than three-quarters (77 percent) report using online reviews as a first step to seeking a physician, while 16 percent use them to validate the choice of a doctor they’ve tentatively selected.
  • Most (94 percent) would be at least “moderately likely” to choose one similarly qualified physician over another based on positive reviews. 
  • Nearly half (47 percent) say they would consider going to an out-of-network physician if their reviews were better than those of an in-network physician.

What Do Potential Patients Want to Know About Physicians?

According to the survey: 

  • Twenty-eight percent of respondents seek information about the quality of care provided. The top three most important elements of care delivery they want to know about are accuracy of diagnosis (43 percent), listening skills (20 percent), and explanation skills (16 percent).
  • Twenty-six percent want to see patient rating scores (like star ratings).
  • Twenty-three percent want information about the patient experience.
  • Regarding practice administration, respondents most valued information about:
    • Staff friendliness, 32 percent;
    • Ease of scheduling, 22 percent; and
    • Billing or payment issues, 18 percent.

Fortunately, only 6 percent of survey respondents said they write negative online reviews of physicians, while half leave positive reviews. This means it is worth your while to encourage patients to post reviews of you and your practice. For example:

  • Post a sign in your office asking patients to share their experience.
  • Add clickable links to review sites like Yelp, Vitals, and Healthgrades to email signatures and your website.
  • Software Advice suggests using software programs that integrate with your practice management system to automate recruiting reviews. For example, the software could send patients a post-visit online survey with links to online review sites.
  • Or, send your patients a thank-you note after a visit, asking them to share their experience.

TMA Can Help

Published July 11, 2017

TMA Practice E-Tips main page

Last Updated On

July 19, 2017

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