Simple tasks to significantly improve your practice’s online reputation

May 15, 2020
Michael Toebe

How changes to basic processes in your practice can have a positive impact.

It might be surprising to learn that lawyers are often more appreciated and praised in online reviews than doctors. There is something to learn from it and a path to achieving a similar online reputation.

Not that attorneys and law firms don’t provide a quality service to society, yet the stereotype is the profession of law and its people and practices are not always as admired as physicians, nurses, and medical practices.

“Physicians consistently rank in the top five of the public’s most trusted professions, with attorneys consistently ranking lower. But online reviews tell a different story,” says Ron Harman King, Vanguard Communications CEO.

How this plays out in public satisfaction is difficult to comprehend at first glance.

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A new report by Vanguard, a healthcare marketing and management consulting firm, found that “lawyers are 44 percent more likely than doctors to receive a 5-star review (1.5 million Yelp reviews).” 

Not a small sample size. Vanguard’s findings produced additional puzzling discussion points:

“A lawyer is 72 percent less likely than a doctor to receive a 1-star online review.”

“The average Yelp star rating for a doctor is 3.5. For a lawyer, the average is 4.2.”

What is behind the research and why are doctors and physician practices receiving lower online approval and experiencing less than praiseworthy reviews? Vanguard reports that it’s not necessarily what might first come to mind. 

A study of nearly 35,000 online healthcare reviews revealed 96 percent of unhappy patients are content or satisfied with the quality of medical care they receive. What they don’t like and see as a reasonable expectation not being met in the patient-physicians’ practice relationship are customer service issues, such as phone hold times and wait times.

Before you dismiss this article regarding those points as being nothing more than nitpicking, inconsequential, or petty, realize those are important relationship touch points to patients and in healthy relationship. What is important to each side should be important to the other if you want peace, cohesion, and praise going forward.

Phone hold times and wait times are not absolutes. They are variables that can be improved and refined (more on this later) and should strongly be considered and accepted as an ongoing challenge, especially considering the benefits that would be created and the negativity and stress that could be largely mitigated or eliminated.

 

Questions practices can ask themselves include asking:

  • “Do we realize all that goes into the quality of experience for patients and their families and do we care about matters to them?”

  • “Is it reasonable for patients to have these expectations of empathy and courtesy in conjunction with phone hold times, wait times, and pleasant exchanges with all practice personnel?”

  • “Is it a worthwhile pursuit to commit to small, specific, continual improvements for the available benefit?”

  • “Should doctors have poorer reviews than attorneys?”

  • “Are these relatively simple corrections for tremendous improvement in perception, relationship and reputation rewards, motivating and if not, why not?”

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Often the most arduous task in problem solving is clearly understanding the problem. Albert Einstein said, “If I had an hour to solve a problem, I'd spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions.” 

Vanguard’s research has done much of that ‘thinking about the problem.’ What then becomes necessary is accessing motivation to devise, implement, monitor, assess, and fine tune the solution and remedy.

Important physicians practice leadership conversations can go a long way to unlocking the online reviews that most accurately reflect the quality of care patients and their families receive and respect. 

The quality of answers depends on the quality of questions, character, intrinsic motivation, and commitment to continual improvement.

Continual improvement is not always difficult. It just requires vision for the benefits created and commitment to that specific mindset. 

Kaizen is the Japanese concept “referring to business activities that continuously improve all functions and involve all employees from the CEO to the assembly line workers.” No, primary care is not an assembly line, yet truth is some in the medical profession have recognized Kaizen wisdom and adopted and implemented the process.

The reality is practices can more regularly pursue Kaizen, expertly make small, continual improvements to overcome the problematic, inaccurate perceptions as to physician practice quality. 

Doing this then leads to the domino effect of improving patient relationships and their viewpoints about the practice, better managing the fewer relationship rifts that will be present and replacing the disconcerting and incomplete online reviews. 

Relationship quality and reputation will be continually built, manifesting itself in online reviews. Less stress will be one more desirable result.

Doctors, nurses, and practices can earn the five-star reviews and largely eliminate anything less than four-star reviews. It is more than possible, it is inevitable with the Kaizen mindset and process. When the commitment is there, the results will be.

The tangible and intangible benefits will be quickly achieved and sustained. 

Michael Toebe is a specialist for reputation, professional relationships communication and wiser crisis management, writes the Red Diamonds Newsletter on Medium and hosts the Red Diamonds Podcast with Michael Toebe.