Choosing Patients to Rate and Review Your Medical Practice

May 25, 2012

How do you know which patients to ask for ratings and reviews? Here are four patient types to look out for when picking patient reviewers for your medical practice.

Ratings, reviews, and testimonials - they are all powerful marketing tools you can use to promote your medical practice. In fact, testimonials from satisfied patients are some of the most underused and underestimated methods of boosting your credibility and instilling confidence in potential patients.

But how do you decide which patients to ask for comments or to leave an online rating or review?

Do you ask every patient who comes in the office?

Is it best to pick only raving fans who will gush and overflow with mountains of praise?

I’m about to give you four strong indicators that the patient sitting across from you in the exam room will be willing and receptive to the idea. Watch for these types of patients the next time you’re in the clinic.

1. The openly grateful and happy patient

These people are not tough to spot. They readily and spontaneously make comments about how happy they are with:

• Their results of treatment
• Their experience with a staff member
• Your expertise or willingness to spend time with them

Most of them are patients who have gone through an entire treatment course with you from the beginning. They’ve had surgery after conservative management for a while or you’ve been with them through some harrowing medical disaster and you had multiple opportunities to demonstrate your skills to them.

Reviews from such patients are typically very long with lots of comments and details.

2. The relieved, quickly satisfied patient

I see these patients a lot in my practice. Often the patient comes in, referred by a family practice doctor for a bump or tumor. I reassure them or quickly make a diagnosis, and they leave happy and anxiety-free.

Most specialists see these patients every day.

Do not miss an opportunity to capture comments and reviews from these patients.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that because you don’t have a deep relationship, they won’t be willing to leave a quick rating on an online review site or fill out a quick comment card in the office.

At the same time, you’ll need to adjust your expectations as well. They won’t write a novel about every detail of their experience.

They may be less tolerant of your pestering them for a review, so it’s best to ask quickly (in the office or in a quick email after the visit).

Don’t expect much beyond leaving a simple star rating with no comments on an online review site. This is still valuable, of course.

3. The patient with mediocre results

You’re probably thinking, "Why would I ask someone who didn’t do well to leave comments?"

I recommend this for several reasons, and in a few specific situations.

Here’s how less-than-stellar reviews can have infinite value to your practice. Imagine a potential patient reading review after review on some doctor rating site; each one more glowing than the next. That person is less likely to believe the reviews are real than if she reads an occasional mediocre review scattered amongst the other ones.

The mother of a child with an elbow fracture left me a mediocre review online. It wasn’t nasty, and her child did well clinically; she just didn’t like how I explained things for some reason, so I got four stars instead of five. But I was happy to see that more realistic review in the middle of my usual five-star ratings.

The best patients in this category are those who you’ve seen for a few months. You’ve been attentive, listening well, spending time with them, but for whatever reason, everything wasn’t perfect in the end.

The relationship usually drives the comments in these situations. If you connected well during the course of treatment, ask for some comments.

4. The early referring patient

Another source of great reviews and testimonials is the patient who starts telling others about you before the treatment course is finished.

These patients will say, "I already told three people about you," or "I already sent my cousin to come see you.”

Early referring patients are often very engaged, very motivated, and have positive outlooks. They can see things are going well even before they’ve finished seeing you.

If you ask these people for reviews and comments early, in the middle of treatment, you can easily remind them at a subsequent visit without complicated follow-up efforts.

What to do next

OK, now for the hard part: asking for ratings and reviews! If you don’t have a system in place for collecting testimonial comments, just ask them to send you a note with some comments, then follow up with a phone call a few days later.

Ask them to visit a doctor rating site and fill out the online version of a review. Healthgrades.com and vitals.com are popular ones.

The point is to make it as easy as possible to leave their comments, now that you know who to ask!

Find out more about C. Noel Henley and our other Practice Notes bloggers.

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