From the October 2017 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine
By Andrew Rainey
In today’s digital world, online ratings and reviews have become an influential factor in consumers picking everything from hotels and restaurants to cars.
This trend has expanded into health care. Ratings and reviews, either from a physician’s personal profile page or from a third-party site, such as Google, Yelp, Facebook, Vitals, UCompareHealth, Healthgrades, etc., can influence a patient’s decision when it comes to selecting a hospital or physician. In fact, 75 percent of Americans say online ratings and review sites have influenced their decision when selecting a physician. The trend toward health care consumerism has created a new reliance on reputation management in the health care industry.
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For any organization competing in the “experience economy,” it’s imperative for health care organizations to identify ways to maximize their online reputation. Patient experience and online reputation impact each other. Health care providers should leverage online reviews to improve the patient experience and better engage with their patient population.
Monitoring online reviews can enhance the patient experience
Online reviews have been proven to benefit patients, doctors and hospital facilities alike through transparency and actionable insights for improving operations affecting the patient experience. For patients seeking a provider, the benefit lies in gaining access to “digital word of mouth” to better understand a physician’s delivery of care and bedside manner, leading to a more-informed decision. For doctors, online reviews can collectively identify perceived strengths and weaknesses so they can better understand and improve the overall patient experience. Though there has been pushback from physicians who are skeptical of online reviews, particularly negative ones, we’re seeing evidence of more health care providers using this data as a means of benchmarking their performance. Hospitals can use the reviews to analyze, monitor and evaluate their health care facilities and medical staff, helping improve patient experience and loyalty.
More patients are putting value into online reviews because they provide unfiltered and transparent feedback necessary to find the right physician or hospital. If you haven’t invested time in establishing an online presence yet, your health care organization should diligently work toward developing a process for monitoring and managing online patient feedback so providers don’t miss out on securing new patients or building loyalty with your existing patients.