The growing importance of online reviews has struck fear into the hearts of numerous professionals. From attorneys to restaurant owners, physicians and beyond, there is a legitimate concern regarding customers’ ability to post reviews to online directories that the entire world can see. Instead of attempting to hide from such criticism, many healthcare professionals are taking the opposite approach by embracing online reviews. Creative minds throughout the healthcare industry are figuring out ways to flip critical online reviews, blatantly dishonest reviews, and even a lack of reviews into a positive.
Taking the Good With the Bad
When physicians and other healthcare professionals surf the web over to online directories, most find a handful of reviews that heap on the praise, a few negative write-ups and plenty of responses that fall somewhere in between. These varied reviews are scattered across online directories like Yelp, HealthGrades, Vitals and beyond. Instead of harping on the uber-negative reviews, healthcare professionals are beginning to accept such critiques as inevitable. Even some of the nation’s elite restaurants have received unapologetically critical online reviews. Keying in on these nasty reviews is myopic.
Consider what the average patient does when searching for a physician or other healthcare provider. He likely checks out several reviews from a couple online directories. Though the most critical reviews might leave a lasting impression, their negativity can be outweighed by the glaring praise posted by satisfied patients. They key is to not let those insulting reviews induce frustration. Take a look at other physicians’ reviews as well as the reviews posted for service providers in other industries and there is a good chance you will find at least a few critical write-ups.
In the end, you can’t please everyone. Even if you do, there will likely be at least one person who takes to the web to post a negative review just because he can. He might not even be a patient of the doctor he criticizes. The nature of our increasingly high-tech world is that individuals have an ever-growing level of social agency. It is imperative that healthcare providers accept this fact and put their faith in patients to leave honest reviews across the web’s directories.
You Can’t Run From the Web
According to Nuance, a health tech enterprise in Boston, more than 50 percent of millennials rely on the Internet to find a doctor. Software Advice, a consulting firm in Austin, reports that over 40 percent of patients tapped into web reviews in 2014. This is a meteoric leap from a mere 25 percent in the year prior. From BLS renewal online to healthcare provider reviews, web-based medical databases and beyond, it is clear that the Internet is becoming increasingly important as we transition to a high-tech future.
Consider what would happen if a healthcare provider lacked a web presence simply out of a fear that those loudly negative online voices would drown out the comparably quiet majority. Such a provider would likely experience a significant drop-off in business. Those who have accepted the fact that harsh online reviews are inevitable will reap the reward in the form of powerful exposure to the masses and the resulting uptick in patients.
Accept Online Reviews as a Challenge to Improve
Consider an instance in which a patient expects a healthcare professional to provide a specific medical service, piece of medical equipment or medical supplies. In the old days, if the provider did not have immediate access to the item or service the patient desires, it would be denied. Nowadays, healthcare providers aren’t as quick to refuse patient requests. Part of the reason for accommodating more patient requests is the threat of a negative online review. The physician or other medical specialist no longer has all of the power. Those who are accepting of change view the new patient-doctor balance of power as an opportunity to expand their customer base and earn a positive online review.
Adapt or be Left Behind
In the end, healthcare providers that refuse to establish an online presence or engage with patients over the Internet will inevitably miss out on a considerable number of prospective patients. Exposing oneself to highly critical online reviews does not mean a healthcare professional has to cede all power to the patient. It is possible to respond to online reviews with detailed rebuttals for the public to read. Sure, it will take some time to read online reviews, but investing this time and effort is essential to success. In some instances, reading patient reviews has opened healthcare professionals’ eyes to legitimate flaws that need to be remedied. In other instances, nasty online reviews have been negated by swift and detailed responses that win over prospective patients who are gauging a healthcare provider’s merit through online write-ups.
The bottom line is that online reviews represent an opportunity to expand a patient base, grow the business and increase profitability. Don’t run from online reviews. Embrace them wholeheartedly and your practice will stand a better chance of meeting its potential in terms of providing medical care as well as profitability.