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MARKETING THE PRACTICE

The healthcare consumer: Using patient online reviews to boost your practice’s business

Patients are making increasing use of physician rating and review sites to comment on their medical experiences the way diners do with restaurants. And as with restaurants, this can be a tremendous boost or drag on your practice’s business. Here’s how to make effective use of these sites.

Top review sites

First, become familiar with the top healthcare review sites, which in no particular order, include:

Formats

Each site is slightly different. At Vitals, for example, healthcare providers are rated using stars in seven categories. Individual rating categories are shown, as is a total rating. Site users may also share wait time. In addition, there is a comment section.

The number of categories and information vary at Healthgrades, RateMDs, and CareDash. Each of these sites allows for comments.

At WebMD, there are multiple rating categories, although no comment section.

At all sites, individual site user ratings add up to an overall rating.

Ideally, the more information a site provides, the better. Nevertheless, it’s worth keeping on an eye on all these sites, as they are all popular and therefore valuable resources.

What to look for

Star ratings are obviously an area on which you want to focus. Keep in mind, however, that a bad review can skew an overall rating. Such is the case with a pathologist rated at Healthgrades who received one five-star review and one one-star review.

In addition to ratings, pay attention to comments. At Vitals, for example, one reviewer had this to say about a pathology specialist: “She was arrogant and has no bedside manner.”

Here again, weigh negative comments in relation to overall feedback. One bad experience isn’t likely to impact your business. On the other hand, multiple negative comments suggest a pattern. In conducting research for this article, we found several pathologists with numerous negative comments.

While the patient experience matters, so do other categories. Don’t overlook business basics. At Vitals, categories include friendly staff. At Healthgrades, site users rate office environment. CareDash includes communication.

What adds up to best practices? These sites will give you some insight—while pointing out areas where your medical practice may want to make improvements.


Editor’s picks:

U.S. news and Binary Foundation team up to add patient experience ratings to online doctor profiles


In the News: Alliance helps member physicians collect patient reviews and manage online reputation


Study finds 96 percent of online complaints about doctors fault customer service, not quality of care


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