Most people wouldn’t go see a movie or visit a new restaurant without reading a few online reviews first, just to have a better idea of what they’re about to experience. Why should a medical practice be any different? Retaining existing patients and encouraging patient growth should be a goal for any practice, and reviews can be a very helpful tool for achieving it.
Looking at a doctor’s qualifications can give potential patients an idea of their areas of expertise and experience, but they won’t tell them much about a doctor’s bedside manner or how actual visits are conducted. Considering the amount of anxiety that visiting a new medical practice can trigger for patients, it becomes easier to see how a few good online reviews can go a long way toward easing their anxieties. This is why it’s a good idea to have a few online reviews easily accessible on a physician or practice’s website– prospective patients looking for more information won’t have to go far in order to have their concerns assuaged and increase the likelihood that they’ll choose to visit that practice.
Online physician review sites, like Healthgrades or Vitals, also give doctors another means of having their name in the public eye. Rather than having to rely solely on paid advertising or search engine optimization, positive reviews on review sites give them an additional way to be presented in a favorable light to the kind of patients that are more likely to be swayed by unbiased opinions on third-party sites than they are by paid advertising.
Online reviews can even help doctors improve the way they practice medicine. Positive reviews aren’t the only ones worth harnessing– negative reviews can not only point out where a practice could stand some improvement, they offer doctors an opportunity to demonstrate how they handle criticism. Do patients feel adequately listened to and cared about? If they leave negative reviews, will these reviews be ignored, receive a negative reply, or be met with the assurance that their doctor cares about them? Addressing criticism the right way can quickly turn negative reviews into praise, with all of the attendant benefits that come with having good reviews.
Medical practices that don’t offer easy access to patient reviews should strongly consider doing so. They help reduce new patient anxiety and sway patients that are undecided about choosing a doctor, all at little to no cost.
Eric Vainer is an expert on corporate culture and a heralded entrepreneur from New York.