In 2014, the average American physician spent somewhere between 13 minutes and 20 minutes with every patient, according to The Statistics Portal. That means the average doctor sees about four patients per hour, every single working day. That also probably means that most doctors just don't have the time or the energy to handle reputation management tasks either before or after clinic hours.
But, if you've been letting your reputation work slide because you're a touch too busy, I'm here with a wakeup call. Last week, I stumbled across this blog post written by staff members of Vitals: A website that collects real-world doctor reviews. This website has about a million doctors listed, and with just a few clicks of a button, users can write up their thoughts about their doctors and share them with the world at large.
Chilling Stats for Doctors
Here are my top 3 nerve-wracking stats from this Vitals blog:
1. Of patients looking for new doctors, 6 in 10 use online reviews, like those seen on Vitals.
2."Rude," "horrible" and "bad" are top choices for negative words in published reviews.
3. There are 6 million reviews on Vitals alone.
Put all of these statistics together, and you have a picture of a community that loves to share stories, and often, those stories are negative or unflattering. How could this impact your business? Let's think about that for a bit. If you're looking for new patients and new clients, and you're running a series of ads about that, those clients are probably using review sites to find out more about you. And chances are, they're seeing a few reviews that don't make you look great.
What You Can Do
If you're hoping to force review sites like Vitals out of business, forget about it. Consumers are accustomed to looking at sites like this when they're in the market for a new health care provider, and should Vitals drop out of the market, others will quickly fill the void. Consider this: HIT Consultant suggests that Yelp is the most popular site for online physician reviews, but other named sites included:
It's a crowded review field out there, because consumers like to do their homework before signing up for care with a new provider. And you can use that to your advantage.
First off, make sure your clients know that you have an active presence on review sites, and if they compliment your office, your staff or your care, ask them to jot down a few notes on those sites. You're not violating ethical rules here, since you're not telling your clients what to say, and you're not threatening to withhold care or boost prices based on what clients do say. You're simply pointing out that you have an active profile, and that you'd love for them to share a compliment. That's totally legal.
Similarly, make sure your clients have an easy way to express their displeasure. Make sure they can connect with your practice manager via email, or better yet, have a complaint box out in the open in your appointment room. If you make it known that you're open to criticism in person, and that you'll hop on top of any comments you see just as soon as you see them, you'll reduce the chances of a consumer heading to social media because he/she got ignored or frustrated. When you see a complaint on these private channels, do your absolute best to fix the problem quickly. Issue a refund, offer a personal apology, schedule a followup meeting. Do whatever you can to make sure that the person feels heard and appreciated.
And at the end of it all? Ask that person to highlight what you did in a review on a social media site. The idea here is to fix the problem first, and win your customer back, long before that review is even written. Do that, and you'll have stellar reviews you can count on. We can help, too. If you're looking through your published reviews and you're seeing nothing but heartache, we can work with you to delete the most egregious examples, and we'll help you solicit the reviews that will make you look great. Find out more about that option here. We'd love to help.