How to Get More Patient Reviews
3 Essential Questions Doctors Must Answer
Patient reviews have the potential to become a doctor’s greatest marketing asset. They can turn into a best referral source, bolster your reputation, and help grow the practice with new patient volume and new patient revenue. Check off these essential questions before you start collecting.
Left unchecked, patient reviews – and their ability to influence the “buying choices” searchers make when selecting your practice– will remain out of reach.
Essential Question 1 – HOW Will You COLLECT Reviews?
Consider patient flow. How many patients do you treat in a day? A week? A year? Doctors specializing in elective procedures may be able to approach patients and ask for a review directly. If you work in a busy ER, your collection strategy will be vastly different. And checkout, the most assumed time, is the least conducive for high flow practices. Still, if checkout is not hectic and patients are not in a hurry, checkout may work well. Each practice is different.
WHICH Collection Methods Work Best?
Based on our experiences, platforms designed to survey patients while in your practice perform well in most environments. These platforms usually take the shape of tablet devices and come equipped with simple but comprehensive surveys. Reviews collected in this way are easy to track and ask little of the patient’s time. A metric comparing number of collected surveys to those posted online is key for success.
What About Asking Patients to Post After Leaving the Practice?
Asking patients is the obvious solution. We endorse it. But patients are busy and, once home, will forget unless they are reminded. Email reminders are critical to keep the request front and center. For certain practices, this strategy works. But keep in mind – asking a patient in person is a flesh and blood interaction, and therefore memorable. You (or your staff) control that experience. Email reminders have the power to reach hundreds of patients at once. But personalizing them is difficult, and unless you have written authorization, it could violate regulatory rules concerning email marketing.
An even better question to ask yourself is this…
Do you even trust your vendor (helping you get reviews) to successfully place a reminder email into your patient’s inbox?
What About Review Cards?
Cards are good physical reminders. But cards get buried in wallets, lost under car seats, and they cost the patient nothing to throw away. It’s very difficult to track their effectiveness.
Can I Offer Discounts in Exchange for Reviews?
This is a bad idea. Do not do this.
Whether the patient is offered money, discounted services, or a free procedure, the Federal Trade Commission frowns on reviews that are bought. Unless fully disclosed, the FTC can fine you. And a FTC slap will tarnish your reputation online. Doctors have been burned before.
Essential Question 2 – How Will You Post Patient Reviews Online?
If you already have a large body of patients you can survey, that’s great. And the faster you start collecting reviews, the faster you’ll see the benefits. But if most reviews fail to post online, that method of collecting patient reviews may not be the right fit for your practice.
PATIENT REVIEWS MUST BE PUBLISHED ONLINE TO BE USEFUL. OFFLINE CONTENT IS DEAD WEIGHT.
Collecting reviews is easy. Posting them online is hard.
Does eMerit Post Most Patient Reviews Online?
Yes. Reviews are captured at the point of service and posted online through a variety of methods. The vast majority of those reviews are posted online. eMerit does not filter reviews.
Essential Question 3 – NEGATIVE Reviews Will Happen. How Will You Respond to Them?
If you ask a patient for his feedback, you must accept his criticism when it comes. Hopefully, it is constructive. Pretending a negative review will never happen (or ignoring it when it does) invites disaster. When you get a negative review, don’t panic. Everyone gets them. Remedies exist. But remember HIPAA and state privacy laws impact how doctors can respond to ALL online reviews. The good ones, the bad ones, and the ugly ones. Here is a common scenario to consider…
A Patient Just Left a Scathing Review Online – How Can I Erase It?
The short answer is you can’t. The long answer is you can – but it’s difficult. Posting online reviews is like publishing a book. Review content is the property of the author (the patient) and the publishing company.
For our example, let’s say the publisher is Yelp.
Our opinion? Focus more on collecting and posting more reviews. The positives will dilute the negatives.
Here’s another common scenario to consider…
My Patient’s Review is Full of Lies! Can I Reply with My Side of the Story?
If you can identify the patient, call him. Probe why he’s upset and, if reasonable, attempt to solve his problem. After he’s satisfied, ask him if he’s willing to remove or update his review. Make this a request, not a demand. You might be able to reply to the review directly, but unless you consult with an expert, you risk betraying patient confidentiality. And it does not matter if the patient has already volunteered information about his treatment.
If your reply betrays protected health information, you risk violating HIPAA.
How Does eMerit Help Doctors Manage Negative Reviews?
When a doctor joins eMerit, he is matched with an account manager certified in HIPAA compliance. His account manager monitors his collection efforts and notifies him when a negative review is spotted. If the doctor wants to respond to the negative review, his account manager helps him do so in a HIPAA compliant way. Future postings are then optimized to give new patients a more complete picture of the doctor’s long-term performance.