We’ve said it many times and will continue to do so — your online reputation must be one of your top priorities.
Before the digital era, we all relied on our friends and families for recommendations. But now, we depend on so many other factors when making decisions, and 68% of consumers take into account trustworthy reviews. This is especially true for healthcare where patients heavily rely on other patients’ feedback when choosing providers, so the way you manage your reputation can have a profound impact on their decisions.
You may be living in fear of negative patient complaints, but they don’t hurt your business as much as you think. Quite the contrary, 85% of consumers look for negative reviews in order to make informed decisions, pointing to the growing demand for transparency.
A mix of positive and negative reviews holds significance because they contribute to your practice’s credibility and provide a balanced perspective for prospective patients. However, while negative patient feedback isn’t necessarily detrimental, it’s important to take every possible measure to ensure patient satisfaction and proactively prevent negative reviews.
Stay Ahead of Negative Reviews
Addressing patient concerns and taking timely actions to prevent negative reviews are crucial aspects of maintaining a strong online reputation. This way, you demonstrate your dedication to delivering exceptional care and fostering positive patient experiences. In addition, you can handle any potential issues better before they escalate into negative feedback or make damage to your practice’s reputation.
Here are some of the steps you can take in this process:
Don’t Make Your Patients Wait
The time patients spend in your practice’s waiting area plays a crucial role in shaping their overall experience. According to industry analysts, 33% of patients would choose a new healthcare provider if they had to wait too long for one appointment.
Moreover, negative reviews often encompass more than just criticism of the doctors and staff. They frequently emphasize the amount of time patients felt they had to waste during their treatment. This highlights the fact that prolonged waiting periods can generate negative sentiments towards the practice, no matter the treatment’s outcome.
I can prove this to be right from my own perspective. When I moved to another country a few years ago, I was in the mid-stage of my pregnancy and sought recommendations for a gynecologist. Since everyone pointed me to the same doctor, I began scheduling appointments there. However, it quickly became apparent that this practice had a tendency to keep patients waiting.
The waiting room would be filled with patients scattered all around because of the pandemic, nervously glancing at their watches and wondering what was happening. On one occasion, the computer system crashed; on another, the doctor’s car broke down. And then, when I was made to wait for a solid hour because of burst water pipes, I was done. I was feeling bloated, uncomfortable, and irritated, and all I wanted was to hear that my baby was okay, so I could go home and rest.
The excessive wait times had a significant negative impact on my overall experience, overshadowing the actual treatment outcomes. It also made me wonder why they even bothered to schedule appointments when none of them were made on time.
On the other hand, there are a number of things that you can do to prevent negative reviews stemming from situations such as this one. For example, try not to overbook patients and make a list of times for various appointment types based on their duration. Also, make sure to remind patients of their upcoming appointments a few hours before their scheduled visit. If they’re still left waiting for longer than usual, communicate with them and apologize for the delay. A personal apology from a doctor can completely or partially offset frustration for 70% of patients.
Go the Extra Mile and Create a Lasting Impression
They say you never get a second chance to make a first impression, and this holds true for your healthcare practice as well. The moment patients step into your lobby, they form an initial perception that can greatly influence their overall experience. Don’t forget that some may arrive already feeling stressed or anxious about their visit. That’s why a calm, comfortable, and welcoming waiting area with staff willing to provide the care and attention patients deserve can work wonders.
For example, medical pictures can be unsettling and out of place in a modern office environment, so it’s better to opt for calming and decorative elements to create a more inviting atmosphere. At the same time, don’t be afraid to infuse your waiting room with colors that radiate positivity.
Background music plays a crucial role in creating a calming environment, so choose soothing melodies over the busy hum of a radio station. Also, while screens are great for entertainment, it’s best to keep daily news broadcasts out of your office space. Patients can easily access news updates on their phones if desired, allowing your waiting room to remain a tranquil haven.
When it comes to your front desk, if things look chaotic from your patients’ point of view, they may feel that they’re just another number for your staff to handle. To prevent negative reviews, foster regular communication with staff members to eliminate any errors and oversights. This can help maintain a harmonious workflow and ensure that patients receive the attention and care they expect. Also, make sure your office is properly equipped with the necessary tools and resources to operate efficiently, without compromising patient care for the sake of cost-cutting. By providing your team with the right resources, you enable them to deliver exceptional service and reduce the risk of mistakes or delays.
Encourage, Listen, and Validate Patient Feedback
The best way to prevent negative reviews is to be proactive and invite patients to share their experiences. Many people aren’t comfortable bringing up complaints or suggestions and will keep feedback to themselves if not prompted by your staff. So, if you don’t reach out to patients, they will find other outlets to express their dissatisfaction, probably in the public eye.
To simplify the feedback process for all parties involved, consider sending automated review requests to patients within 24 hours of their visit. This not only facilitates the collection of reviews but also demonstrates your commitment to understanding and addressing patient concerns.
However, it’s equally important to follow up on patient input and have a well-defined plan for responding to both positive and negative feedback. When patients notice your genuine care for their concerns and witness your proactive efforts to address them, those negative reviews can become just distant thoughts. Or even better — they can turn into positive ones.
Engage and Interact
To succeed in today’s healthcare landscape, you need to understand the importance of maintaining a strong online presence and demonstrate compassion, professionalism, and responsiveness to both existing and prospective patients. Using social media platforms and online reputation management sites helps you harness the power of social customer care to enhance the patient experience, optimize positive feedback, and prevent negative reviews.
To improve online interaction with your patients, you need to maintain an engaging and informative website and active profiles on social media platforms but also use them to demonstrate the values, expertise, and compassionate care that patients can expect from your practice. Keep your online review platforms updated with accurate information about your practice, services, and contact details. Be transparent about appointment availability, wait times, and any other relevant information to manage patient expectations effectively.
Also, you have to monitor your online channels regularly and respond promptly to patient inquiries, comments, and feedback. Addressing patient concerns with professionalism, empathy, and a genuine desire to assist shows them that their opinions are heard and valued. This way, you can also stay informed about patient sentiment. Use the insights gained to identify areas for improvement and adapt your practices accordingly.
Take Steps to Shape the Patient Experience
It’s important to understand that the patient experience extends beyond the services provided within the walls of your practice. In other words, patient satisfaction is not just a one-time transaction but a long-term relationship and the efforts you invest in creating a seamless, compassionate, and exceptional experience for your patients can have a lasting impact on their loyalty.
Recognizing the multifaceted nature of the patient experience and implementing strategies to prevent negative reviews helps you create an environment where patients feel valued, cared for, and inspired to share their positive experiences with others. When you put them first in every aspect of your business, you can maintain high ratings, attract new patients through the front door, and achieve the bottom-line results you desire.
To make this process seamless, navigate the digital healthcare landscape with confidence, and take strategic steps to prevent negative reviews, you can rely on SocialClimb. Our platform enables you to enhance patient satisfaction, optimize positive feedback, and prevent and minimize the impact of negative reviews. With SocialClimb as your partner, you can confidently manage your online reputation and ensure that your patients’ experiences align with the exceptional care you provide.