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Managing Online Reviews for Healthcare Providers – Traps to Avoid

Every healthcare provider wants to be the best in their field but how do you prove you’re the best? With online patient reviews. 

Patients trust the opinions of their friends, family, and even strangers who leave online reviews about their experiences at healthcare practices. A 4-star dermatologist with hundreds of positive reviews looks much more desirable than the 2-star practice down the road.

Online reviews have become a critical part of how patients choose healthcare providers. With a few clicks, they can read about the experiences of others and make informed decisions about where to book their next appointment. In fact, 71% of consumers use online reviews as the very first step in finding a new provider and consider reviews to be the most critical factor in this process, in addition to insurance acceptance and location.

However, as the importance of online reviews for healthcare providers grows, so does the temptation to manipulate or fake reviews to appear more desirable. While this may seem like a quick fix to improve your reputation, it can ultimately do more harm than good. So, let’s explore some pitfalls to avoid when managing online reviews for healthcare providers, and how to maintain an online reputation at a high level in an ethical and sustainable way.

Things to Avoid When Managing Your Online Reviews

While it’s true that having a large volume of reviews and high ratings is important, engaging in unethical or manipulative practices to achieve this goal is never the answer. You should strive to earn positive reviews by providing high-quality care and a positive patient experience, rather than using tactics that can undermine trust, harm patient outcomes, and even get you kicked off reputation platforms.

Your focus should be on providing high-quality care and letting your online reviews reflect your dedication to patient satisfaction. At the same time, in the pursuit of improving online reviews for healthcare providers, it’s important to avoid taking any shortcuts or engaging in unethical practices.

Don’t Gate Your Review Invitations

Review gating is when businesses only solicit reviews from happy patients, while discouraging or even preventing negative feedback from unhappy patients. Typically, doctors who gate their reviews first ask their patients if they had a good experience and depending on how patients respond, they’re then encouraged to leave a review. This gives a false impression of how satisfied patients actually are with the care they received.

It’s also important to understand that Google and other review sites strictly advise businesses against discouraging negative reviews or selectively asking for positive reviews. Businesses that are caught gating reviews risk being severely penalized by these sites. In some cases, this results in having all existing reviews completely removed so that they have to start building their online reputation from scratch.

Why are healthcare organizations willing to risk such severe consequences that could drastically impact their online presence? The truth of it is that these organizations and their providers are often afraid of receiving unfavorable feedback, even though negative reviews are nothing to fear. Negative reviews are expected and provide some realism to your online reputation. While a perfect 5-star rating may seem like the ultimate goal, many providers don’t realize that a lack of negative reviews often makes them look highly suspicious.

When you receive negative reviews, responding to them in a professional and empathetic manner can go a long way in reassuring existing and prospective patients that you’re concerned about their healthcare experience. Additionally, patients like to see how businesses resolve patient concerns, especially when expressed in a public setting. As you respectfully address negative reviews, it shows that you continue to care about your patients, even after treatment has taken place. Negative reviews can also help call out areas where your providers can improve the patient experience, so looking at them as a growth opportunity is also beneficial.

To be fair and transparent, provide all patients with an opportunity to leave a review, regardless of their experience. This way, your reputation will be accurately represented. Ultimately, it’s best to avoid review gating entirely and instead focus on encouraging genuine feedback from all patients. Speaking of genuine feedback…

Don’t Write Fake Reviews for Your Healthcare Organization

Unfortunately, writing fake reviews is a common practice in today’s online environment. This involves creating false positive reviews for your own business, typically under fake names or identities, in order to boost your overall rating and make your healthcare organization appear more reputable and trustworthy to potential patients.

However, writing fake reviews is not only dishonest, but it’s also against the terms of service of most review sites. Google, Yelp, Healthgrades, and other review sites have strict guidelines in place to ensure that reviews are genuine and trustworthy. They don’t tolerate fake reviews, and any attempt to manipulate or influence the review system is strictly prohibited.

Improving online reviews for healthcare providers by writing fake reviews can lead to severe consequences. Review sites can ban your healthcare organization altogether, and the negative publicity can harm your reputation and credibility. Additionally, creating fake reviews can also lead to legal repercussions, as it can be considered a form of fraud.

Don’t Pay a Third Party to Post Fake Reviews

Engaging a third party to post fake reviews as if they’re a patient is another unethical practice that some businesses use to manipulate their online reputation. However, hiring individuals or companies to write fake reviews and post them on review sites under the guise of genuine patient feedback is dishonest and misleading. 

This way of handling online reviews for healthcare providers is wrong for several reasons. Such reviews aren’t based on a real patient’s experience and can deceive prospective patients looking for a new provider. These reviews may also encourage patients to spend money on services they otherwise might not need, thereby financially defrauding them.

Don’t Use Review Stations in Your Place of Business

Using review stations or kiosks in your place of business involves providing a computer or tablet to patients and encouraging them to leave reviews while they are still on the premises. 

While it’s understandable that you’re eager to improve your online reputation and increase review volume, this approach can create an uncomfortable or awkward situation for your patients. They may feel pressured or obliged to leave a positive review, even if they don’t want to. 

Because these review stations could inadvertently detract from the patient experience, you should focus on encouraging genuine patient feedback through automated means. Review invitations sent via text and email after an appointment has happened, paired with providing exceptional service, is the best way to encourage your patients to leave positive reviews at their leisure.

Don’t Try to Get Too Many Reviews at Once

When trying to increase the volume of online reviews for healthcare providers, receiving a lot of reviews at once may seem like a good idea. However, this can trigger review site filters that are designed to identify and remove fake or spammy reviews. This is also an additional risk of soliciting reviews from patients while visiting your locations, whether through a kiosk or even via their cell phone. 

Review sites use sophisticated algorithms to detect patterns of fraudulent reviews. These algorithms look for suspicious activity such as an unusually high number of reviews coming in over a short period of time, reviews originating from a single location or device, and reviews written using similar language or patterns. 

If suspicious activity is identified, review sites may determine that you’re dishonestly attempting to improve the online reputation of your business. This could result in reviews being flagged and even prevented from showing up publicly. In some cases, review sites may even flag your account for suspicious activity, remove your profile, and cause significant damage to your healthcare organization’s reputation.

A steady and consistent rate of incoming reviews should be encouraged through the use of automated tools, ideally ones that provide patients with opportunities to leave reviews via text or email once their appointment has been completed.

Don’t Hand Out Printed Cards to Request Reviews

While printed cards may have been an effective method for encouraging online reviews in the past, they’re a costly and inefficient method of soliciting reviews and today’s patients expect a more streamlined and accessible process. The process of using printed cards is cumbersome and requires additional effort on the part of the patient to complete. They have to keep the card, remember to visit the website, and then follow the instructions provided on the card. In return, you may end up with a significantly smaller amount of reviews than you expected.

To enhance the volume of online reviews for healthcare providers, it’s essential to make the process as easy and straightforward as possible for patients. Soliciting reviews through automated text and email invitations help you avoid unnecessary steps or complicated instructions that may discourage patients from leaving a review. Providing patients with a streamlined experience shows your patients that you value their feedback and are committed to providing excellent care.

Make It Easy to Get Online Reviews

Apart from avoiding certain practices that can hinder the volume of online reviews and ratings, you can take proactive steps to effectively encourage patients to leave reviews. To begin with, it’s important to connect your review profiles to your website (and vice versa) to make it easy for patients to leave reviews and provide feedback about their experience with your healthcare organization. This can help you build a steady stream of positive reviews, which ultimately helps you attract new patients and grow your practice

It’s important to link to your review profiles from your homepage, as well as from other pages on your site that are relevant to your business. This will ensure that patients can find your review profiles easily and leave feedback without having to search for them. Also, patients are more likely to leave reviews if they see that your review profiles are active and up to date, so make sure that information about your healthcare organization is accurate and relevant.

Another important step when handling online reviews for healthcare providers involves training employees who have direct contact with patients to request a review upon completion of service. Studies show that in-person experiences are the second-most-popular way for businesses to request reviews from patients. 

Personalized requests from staff members, especially doctors, can be a powerful tool in generating positive reviews, as patients tend to connect better with individuals than with the overall practice. This is especially true when considering doctor referrals, which are often for specific providers rather than practice locations. As providers personally ask patients to leave reviews for them rather than for the practice as a whole, this also acts as a great way to set right expectations to any follow up review invitations they might receive, such as through text or email.

An additional strategy to enhance online reviews for healthcare providers involves offering patients the option to review your healthcare organization on their preferred review site. Providing patients with this choice can increase the diversity of reviews, which is beneficial for both them and search engines. Encouraging patients to leave reviews and making the process as easy as possible helps you boost your online reputation, attract new patients, and improve patient satisfaction.

Finally, don’t forget to monitor your review profiles regularly and respond to any feedback or questions from patients. This proves that you’re responsive and committed to providing excellent service, thus helping build your online reputation.

Make It Super Easy to Get Online Reviews

Getting reviews is crucial for healthcare providers to improve their online reputation and attract new patients. However, this process can be challenging, especially if you don’t have enough time or resources. That’s where SocialClimb can help.

SocialClimb’s healthcare marketing platform can automate the review invitation process, sending review requests to patients via text message or email and simplifying the process of managing online reviews for healthcare providers. In addition to this, SocialClimb’s platform offers a range of benefits, from streamlining the review request process to providing valuable insights and data on review performance.

As a result, you can save time and resources while increasing your online presence and attracting new patients. By leveraging SocialClimb’s automated review request system, you streamline the review process, increase review volume, monitor review performance with ease, and take control of growing your business.

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