People rely on reviews and testimonials more today than ever before. Whether hunting for a doctor or narrowing a list of potential healthcare providers, we all want to make sure that we are making the best, most informed decisions. In healthcare, this increased attention to reviews can be both a blessing and a curse.
On the one hand, these reviews offer useful feedback that providers can use to improve their operations, as well as potential promotional material from positive online reviews. On the other hand, negative reviews can become liabilities for a hospital, and it can be difficult to respond to these critiques appropriately. Ultimately, healthcare organizations want to manage their brand reputation by increasing online reviews and finding solutions for responding to as many reviews as possible.
The Right Way to Generate More Reviews
There are plenty of ways to generate more reviews, but one must be mindful of a review site’s terms of service.
Google, which hosts the majority of sought out reviews, has recently changed some parts of their guidelines regarding review solicitation and prohibition. But every review site is different, and some are only relevant to healthcare specifically.
By knowing the ins and outs of these sites’ terms, organizations can find the most effective ways of generating and responding to online reviews.
General Review Sites
Every healthcare organization, no matter what services or products they offer, should pay attention to the largest general review sites: Google and Facebook.
Best Practices for Google
Google is committed to creating a transparent forum for customers and businesses. Their recent 2018 update that prohibits businesses from discouraging negative reviews or soliciting positive ones backs this up. Google is also increasing their efforts to eliminate fake and inappropriate reviews aimed to undermine an organization’s brand reputation maliciously.
Overall, this transparency is a good thing for brand reputation management. It means that consumers can trust that good reviews are genuine and unsolicited. As for bad reviews, fake ones can be flagged and removed, while real ones will remain.
Healthcare organizations have the opportunity, however, to respond to these bad reviews (as well as the good ones). Potential patients can then see these responses if made public. This engagement helps organizations reach new and current patients.
Of course, organizations can still encourage customers to leave feedback on Google and other review sites, so long as the reviewer does not feel pressured or swayed to give just positive remarks.
Best Practices for Facebook
Facebook gives its users a bit more control over their online brand reputation. Businesses can turn off reviews entirely, which, of course, eliminates the risk of gathering negative comments, but also prevents positive reviews.
Like Google, Facebook also has measures to combat fake or inappropriate reviews. Facebook is not as specific as Google in its review solicitation policy, however.
One of the best ways to drive more reviews to Facebook is by simply letting patients know that your doctor has a Facebook page.
Though this is commonplace now, making a point of one’s online presence may lead more patients to visit and actively engage.
Facebook will also often recommend that patients review places where they have “checked in.” Knowing this, hospitals might want to offer Wi-Fi to their patients so they can actively check in and leave a review later.
Healthcare Review Sites
People value their health, so healthcare review sites are becoming more and more popular.
For organizations, this increases the importance of strong healthcare reputation management. Maintaining high ranks on these sites is crucial for acquiring new patients and for gathering insights on performance and patient experience.
Best Practices for Healthgrades
Healthgrades offers built-in tools to incentivize reviews. Through Healthgrades, organizations can send postcards to previous patients as a way of following up and encouraging a review.
As for fake reviews, HealthGrades also offers remediation services to challenge specific posts on their site, but only if the organization makes a request. Unlike Facebook and Google, Healthgrades does not verify these reviews on its own.
Best Practices for Vitals
This niche review site takes a hard stance against fake and inappropriate reviews to cultivate an honest atmosphere for all patients and healthcare organizations.
Vitals does not offer systems for generating more reviews, but the best way for providers to improve their brand reputation is by responding to all reviews posted on the site, positive and negative.
Best Practices for ZocDoc
When it comes to generating more reviews, ZocDoc offers a simple solution for healthcare organizations.
The site requests reviews after every scheduled appointment, resulting in a larger amount of unbiased and representative feedback. ZocDoc also ensures that every review is written by a legitimate patient.
Responding to Reviews
Regardless of which review sites an organization uses, responding to these reviews is a key component of managing brand reputation.
Each site has its own guidelines for how an organization may respond, though they all warn against hateful or inappropriate rhetoric. Of course, organizations should not feel compelled to respond this way at all, as such a response reflects more poorly on the organization than the negative review itself.
Before responding, organizations should read the criticism carefully, making sure to understand every concern. They should make sure to address these concerns in their reply and apologize for any wrongdoing or mistake.
Then, an organization must make it clear what it can and will do to improve in the future. This stated commitment is not just for the reviewer, but for every other potential patient to see as well. It shows that the organization cares about its patient and its brand reputation. Of course, positive online reviews deserve replies as well. This is an opportunity to give thanks to the patient, which may entice them to come again or recommend the organization further.
Every healthcare organization should aim to generate more reviews as long as they follow each review site’s terms of service along the way.
Respectfully responding to each review, good or bad, will also help organizations acquire more feedback and promote their brand.
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