Studies show that 61% of patients perform web searches for health information*. That number grows each year. For many types of procedures, chances are a prospective patient’s first move will be to seek information about you online before they consider a consultation. Based on our data of over 50,000 reviews, 25% of patients say they found their doctor on the Internet. That number is also growing each year. For others who find their doctor the traditional way, through friends / family or a referring doctor, patients are still looking you up online to validate that decision.
Next, online reviews track more than just a patient’s subjective impressions about their experience – for example, did the doctor communicate well, was his bedside manner adequate, how long did the patient have to wait for an appointment, etc… Our group was the first to survey and connect online reputation with patient safety and quality of care. Segal J, Sacopulos M, Sheets V, Thurston I, Brooks K, Puccia R Online Doctor Reviews: Do They Track Surgeon Volume, a Proxy for Quality of Care? J Med Internet Res 2012;14(2):e50. So, now there is empiric data suggesting online reputation is helpful in guiding patients on metrics that mattered the most.
If you are the only provider for a 100 mile radius, you can probably ignore online reviews. For everyone else, your livelihood will increasingly depend on it.
*Pew Research Center, Pew Internet & American Life Project