Healthcare practices, like any business, need to constantly pursue new customers as well as work to retain existing ones.
As the cost of healthcare continues to rise in the United States, currently a $3 trillion business, many patients are beginning to reasses their visits. Was the promised service delivered, was it delivered with quality and was it delivered at a fair price? If the standard of care does not meet patients’ expectations, they are more likely to switch practices.
In today’s experience economy, healthcare practices need to concentrate on two things: providing excellent customer service and operating a profitable business. These two seemingly disparate clinical and business goals are interconnected through reputation management, patient engagement and value-based care.
The need for reputation management
In the past, a healthcare provider’s reputation was based primarily on word-of-mouth recommendations from friends, family or another provider. However, online reputation management is something healthcare practices can no longer afford to overlook.
Today, searching and selecting a physician is more than just verifying a physician is experienced and qualified. Patients are actively seeking and reading online ratings and review sites. They’re evaluating a physician or practice based on a myriad of components, such as cleanliness, bedside manner and parking.
A recent consumer survey found:
- 95 percent of respondents say online ratings and reviews are “somewhat” to “very” reliable,
- 70 percent of Americans say online ratings and review sites have influenced their decision when selecting a physician and
- 41 percent of consumers still check online ratings and reviews of physicians/specialists even when referred by another physician.
Therefore, maintaining a positive online reputation is key to promoting a successful business.
With this in mind, medical practices need to monitor and track what is being said about them online. Although many physicians are skeptical of online reviews — particularly negative reviews — more healthcare providers are using this data as a means of benchmarking their performance.
In fact, online ratings and reviews enable physicians to better understand and make operational improvements to the patient experience. In today’s competitive healthcare market, online reputation could be what distinguishes one physician apart from another, especially when cost of care and location are similar.