Updated: Feb 7
Why do first impressions count so much towards a new patient's experience with you?
If it goes bad, how many potential patients could you lose with a negative review online?
Too many! As a result, many of the clinics that use YESpbm’s services have developed a real love-hate relationship with online reviews.
According to a recent Harvard Business School study, a single negative review can turn away up to 30 paying patients.
That’s real income, and a real cost to a practice. The numbers are simple, and scary. As an example, a plastic surgeon charging £6000 for basic Blepharoplasty (droopy eyelid surgery) will discover that a single negative review can cost the practise up to 30 new patients, or around £180,000.
Patients now primarily depend upon online medical reviews to verify the reputation of a particular practice. Online reviews influence prospective patients, and have a significant impact on your business, whether you like it or not.
A healthy online presence then is crucial for any medical practice. Finding's show that 90% of patients who responded to the survey use online reviews to evaluate their physicians.
According to another study, nearly three-quarters of patients (72%) use provider ratings as their first step in finding a new doctor.
This confirms that your Online Reputation frequently forms the first impression of your practice for any new patients. This justifies a focussed and concerted effort towards your online review management in order to avoid giving your patients a negative first impression.
Remember, it’s not only the number of reviews, positive or negative, that’s important. Other factors such as the age of your reviews, their quantity, and whether or not you respond to them influences how your (or your practice's) Online Reputation appears to its audience.
Think about the opinions your potential patients are forming about you, or your clinic, before you even get to meet them face to face.
Reviews appear first among search results and are crucial in providing a specific experience to your potential. Aside from reviews, your organisation's online reputation is an essential factor in patient fulfilment. Always be aware of the various types of online reviews that may jeopardise your healthcare business by giving a negative first impression of your practice online.
Here are the top four things to look for in your review management strategy.
Reviews: Which are too old
Patients look for a wide range of reviews about you. They feel it validates your service, and prominence in the field. A surgeon with 500 + reviews, will rank higher on Google and will attract more “social proof” online.
However, even many reviews will not be enough to save your Online Reputation from negative postings if they are not recent and frequent.
Reviews age, which can be a mixed blessing. According to a Brightlocal survey, the third most important factor with reviews is 'recency.' It has come to a conclusion that reviews older than three months are not considered relevant by your patient base. This means that if you do not show up with recent (within three months) reviews from your patients, your prospective patients are more likely to look elsewhere.
Too many negative reviews or none at all
Having no reviews can be as bad as having negative reviews. In some cases. A high number of negative reviews will imply that your practice has a poor reputation. On the other hand, no reviews will imply a non-existent reputation with zero credibility on the internet, or that you have hidden something to manipulate the results.
A prospective patient who cannot find any reviews about you will look for other providers with at least an average review reputation. It is the same for providers who have a high set of bad reviews.
Too many negative reviews will also of course make your patients hesitant to use your service. According to the same Brightlocal survey, 40% of local business consumers (including patients) would avoid using your service if they found too many negative reviews about you.
Poor reviews negatively impact a first impression, and can harm your reputation in the eyes of search engines. Multiple negative reviews result in lower click-through rates (CTRs) in search results, which tells search engines to reduce your search engine rankings. As a result, there is less visibility on the web, and less business.
Credibility of reviews.
If there are too many positive (solid 5 stars) reviews, they may be hesitant and question the credibility of your reviews. The majority of patients will simply abandon their efforts to learn more about you and will move on. In seconds.
According to another survey, 95% of consumers suspect censorship or fake reviews when there are no negative reviews.
This is why you should also avoid appearing “too good to be true”. This is especially the case in healthcare practices.
Healthcare businesses rely heavily on local patients. In most cases, these patients already have a general idea about your practice and its level of care based on news or opinions. Clearly, no news or opinion can be significant. As a result, when they find only (or primarily) 5-star ratings with overly positive and repetitive comments about your quality of service on review sites, they can doubt your credibility, perhaps prompting them to wonder “if they lie about their reviews, what are they hiding about their skill or care?”.
We suggest our clients embrace 3-4 star reviews with good feedback from time to time. It’s a good thing. Nobody and no business is perfect and your potential patients know that. A grumpy receptionist or bad parking with a 3-star review can actually help you build credibility and allow you to “manage” the truly septic reviewer, or competitor, that may be out to do you harm.
No response to patient reviews.
Negative reviews do happen. It’s ok. Again, no one is perfect.
While responding to them quickly and professionally will reduce their negative impact, failing to acknowledge them with a courteous and genuine response will only aggravate the negative impression they can cause.
Your response to negative reviews and how you accept or deal with criticism is important to patients. It can reassure them that someone on the other end is listening to concerns and taking action to improve or rectify an outcome.
Around 65% of patients believe it is "very" or "moderately" essential for doctors to respond to “negative” reviews.
In the United Kingdom, there are at least 12 separate review sites devoted to healthcare. Keeping up with all of these platforms in-house is difficult or costly and can have a severely negative impact on staff morale and mental health so it is essential to fix negative reviews.
Medical practices, and doctors, are highly recommended to invest in professional (ORM) Online Reputation Management and review management services from specialists such as the team at YESpbm.
We understand how difficult, and disheartening it can be for you as a healthcare provider to manage patient reviews internally. Why not take a minute now to save an hour later?