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TECHNOLOGY

Use rating sites to improve your medical practice

Many people rely on rating sites for hotels, restaurants, and other vacation and leisure activities.

But consulting a rating site before making an appointment with a physician, and allowing that site to influence a health care decision?

It’s more common than you might think. A survey conducted by the University of Michigan finds among people using physician-rating sites, 35 percent report selecting a physician based on good reviews, while 37 percent avoided a physician based on bad reviews.

Implication of information sharing

For medical practices, the potential negative implication of these sites is far-reaching.

Peter T. Berk, an attorney at McDonald Hopkins LLC with in-depth experience representing and advising clients on social media issues, provides an example.

He tells Medical Office Manager of a case where a father posted negative comments about a medical practice that terminated his son as a patient.

Loyal patients came to the defense of the practice on their own, posting comments that countered the disgruntled father’s remarks. The practice also took legal action and the site removed the negative post.

Read more: After a relationship with a disruptive patient ends

Even supposedly positive PR can have a downside. Take the example of “Top 10 cities with happiest medical practice patients,” a list compiled by Vanguard Communications, a health care marketing, public relations, and communications technology firm.

To create the list, Vanguard scoured Internet reviews of medical practices. The results bode well for practices in cities that made the top 10, though perhaps not so well for neighboring cities, which may have missed the mark because of insufficient data—or a few negative comments.

These factors likely also skew the firm’s companion list of “unhappy cities.”

Read more: Top 10 cities with happiest medical practice patients

Nevertheless, rating sites continue to grow in popularity, which means medical practices should not only pay attention to them but find ways to take advantage of the wealth of information they offer.

Setting your sites

Among the sites your practice will want to monitor are Yelp, Healthgrades, RateMDs, and Vitals.

What are you looking for?

While five-star ratings are nice to see, they won’t help you address patients’ concerns or improve the practice. You want to pay attention to the areas where the practice falls short, especially if there is a pattern.

Healthgrades, for example, asks patients to rank physicians on the following:

  • Likelihood of recommending the physician to family and friends

Office and staff

  • Ease of scheduling urgent appointments
  • Office environment, cleanliness, comfort, etc.
  • Staff friendliness and courteousness
  • Total wait time (waiting & exam rooms)

Experience with physician

  • Level of trust in provider’s decisions
  • How well provider explains medical condition(s)
  • How well provider listens and answers questions
  • Spends appropriate amount of time with patients

Addressing issues

Medical office managers have direct responsibility for many of these ratings categories.

While several of the “experience with physician” categories are seemingly outside the area of managerial responsibility, here too medical office managers can make a difference.

For example, if a physician consistently receives poor ratings when it comes to time spent with patients, a manager can (and should) bring this to the doctor’s attention and ask how the medical office staff can provide support. It could be a scheduling issue.

Similarly, poor ratings in the “how well provider listens and answers questions” category might not be due to lack of skills on the part of the physician. Are time constraints affecting the physician/patient relationship, time constraints the medical office manager can resolve? Are there language issues impeding communication that should be addressed?

Review ratings at the various sites from the standpoint of how you might improve the practice, and approach staff and physicians with this as the objective. Negative reviews can lead to positive results.

Finally, in addition to the rating sites mentioned, you may want to check out EZDoctor. For a fee, the site generates a “car fax” report that provides information on a physician, including criminal offenses, board actions, malpractice claims, patient reviews, and more. Although the reports are aimed at helping patients find the right doctor, the information may prove helpful in improving the practice.

Note: Medical Office Manager does not endorse any websites or products mentioned in this article. They are provided for informational purposes only.


Editor’s picks:

Important guidelines for your medical practice website


Effective communication leads to greater staff engagement and better company reputation


Your personal social media posts: are they really personal?


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