The internet has allowed unprecedented choice and information when buying products and services, and this includes healthcare provision. In healthcare, online physician reviews and ratings now greatly influence consumers’ choices about where to seek care.
In fact, most healthcare consumers now start their journey comparing providers online. It means online reputation management is now essential for healthcare providers. But managing reputation online isn’t an isolated activity. Building a positive reputation means prioritizing the patient experience.
Managing reputation online is far easier for providers who are proactive in their pursuit of patient engagement. Integrated software solutions are helping providers to manage both more easily.
This blog outlines some of the key pillars of patient engagement and online reputation management to illustrate the connections between them.
The pillars of patient engagement
Multiple studies show that creating an optimal environment for the treatment of patients improves satisfaction rates. And research also shows that patient engagement is fundamental to the creation of better healthcare experiences and better health outcomes. Excellence in patient engagement makes online reputation management easier too.
Let’s consider some of the key areas of patient engagement to see where reputation management fits in.
- Adopting a patient-centered approach to care
Promoting increased patient involvement in decisions about healthcare and health needs leads to better outcomes (numerous studies support this). Better health outcomes inevitably lead to more positive reviews. A good reputation stems from patients being involved in and happy with their care.
- Optimizing patient flow
Ensuring the timely and efficient movement of patients through healthcare settings improves service efficiency and reduces waiting times. Wait times affect the patient experience and long wait times lead to negative reviews.
- Actively listening and utilizing data to generate new ideas, adopt best practice and improve services
Often, the best service improvements are founded on the views and experiences of patients. Online reputation management means monitoring reviews, actively listening to negative feedback, and responding accordingly.
Patient complaints are a valuable resource for improving patient services and ensuring safety. Patient experience software enables providers to spot pinch points much more easily.
Having both elements (patient experience and online reputation management) in a software package means providers can be much more agile in their responses to improve.
- Transparency and review responses
Reviews matter; 89% of consumers say they read reviews before making purchasing decisions. But patients appreciate honesty and transparency. Inevitably, sometimes things aren’t going to go quite to plan, and, on these occasions, patients may leave a negative review.
It’s important these patient experiences aren’t ignored or buried. Responding to negative reviews is an important part of patient engagement. Potential new patients will be looking at how you respond to bad reviews too. Ironically, responding well to a bad review that’s among many glittering ones may be seen positively.
The pillars of online reputation management
Online reputation is the outward facing aspect of a healthcare organization. It’s ultimately what drives patient opinion about a healthcare practice, facility, or services. There are many activities that are important for online reputation from listings management to search engine optimization (SEO).
Let’s see how some of the key elements of online reputation management connect to patient engagement.
- Review site monitoring
New research reveals that, on average, Americans spend 23 hours a week online – emailing, texting, using social media and participating in other forms of online communication.
The internet means there are now numerous places patients can leave reviews. Since patients now do most of their ‘healthcare’ vetting online, poor reviews can be extremely damaging to patient acquisition.
It is therefore essential that providers understand who is saying what about them, and where. This involves monitoring review sites and responding quickly and appropriately to negative reviews. Responding to positive reviews is also important. Engagement with existing patients helps build loyalty and demonstrates that you care.
- Patient satisfaction surveys
Reputation management is a craft. It means finding out what your consumers think about you and sharing the good news. Surveys are a proactive way providers can gather this important information. Online reputation management software, such as PatientTrak’s, enables providers to leverage surveys (including CG-CAHPS and HCAHPS) into patient reviews and publish testimonials directly to physician directory pages.
- Physician transparency and star ratings
To help patients make informed decisions, it is critical for them to have access to reliable information. Physician transparency is a critical aspect of online reputation. Physician star ratings help patients make informed decisions when choosing a provider or facility – 60% of people say online ratings are important to their decisions about provider choice. Star ratings give people more context when comparing providers.
Patient engagement is the route to better star ratings. Patient engagement also increases with online physician ratings.
Patient engagement and online reputation management: joining the dots
Patients are mostly incredibly discerning consumers – they are, after all, entrusting their health and lives to their providers. A good reputation, reflected by positive reviews, is driven by patient satisfaction. And patient engagement is becoming more and more important for maintaining patient satisfaction.
Reputation also influences what patients are willing to share. A study on the influence of Doctors’ Online Reputation on the sharing of outpatient experiences concluded that patients prefer to share treatment experiences for doctors who have a higher medical quality and service attitude and who work in hospitals with a higher online reputation.
Patient satisfaction, patient engagement and online reputation all go hand in hand. A joined-up approach to patient engagement and online reputation management is fundamental to healthcare success.
Remember, not only do patients leave ratings and online reviews, but they also tell friends and families and share experiences on social media. They’ll tell others about how long they waited, how they were treated by staff and physicians, and whether they felt their provider lived up to expectations.
If you are ready to take patient engagement and online reputation management to the next level, call PatientTrak today.
Our integrated solution captures feedback from any source and turns it into actionable information – the ultimate key to improving patient satisfaction and engagement.