I was hanging out with friends this past weekend, and one friend, let’s call him “Dr. Tom,” was talking about the importance of ensuring his dental practice comes up in search results online. He was telling us that the key to keeping patients coming through the door is about having as many positive reviews as possible… and he believes this strategy helped him double business over the last month.
Dr. Tom has a fairly strong online presence because of some smart, simple SEO and content strategies he has implemented. His practice ranks in the top three search results with 14 reviews in total: 5-star reviews on Google, 26 reviews with a 4.7-star rating on Healthgrades and 86 more 5-star reviews on patientconnect365.com.
In this case, Dr. Tom has taken the steps to glean good results, but this is not the case for all physicians. For some, a 2-star online rating can be the result of just a few poor reviews, regardless of whether or not these doctors provide high-quality care. The difference in how you show up online is directly connected with the investment made in online reputation management practices to drive business. So, how do we as an agency, get our clients to realize that not having a positive online presence can cost them… a lot?
This may seem crazy but the numbers don’t lie. Managing your online reputation, visibility, and positive reviews is a practice that has become increasingly more necessary to attract and retain patients…especially as the healthcare industry shifts to a patient-centric model based on satisfaction.
Let’s use a physician with an average new patient value of $750 as an example. Say this physician were to come up in 100 searches in any given month. If 20% of people who search this doctor see a 2-star rating and decide to go elsewhere (and that’s a conservative percentage), 20 patients equal to $15,000 in revenue that would be lost. In a year, those reviews will cost the physician around $180,000.
People have a choice when it comes to their healthcare and they are shopping online to do it. According to Software Advice, nearly 82% of patients are choosing and evaluating doctors based on online reviews. Individuals are researching their doctors and dentists before making their first appointment and negative reviews can kill your chances of ever seeing these folks in your waiting room. Your online reputation not only affects the choices of potential patients, but reflects on the practice, colleagues, employees and current referral sources. This is why online reputation management for doctors and dentists has become indispensable in helping them manage, control and protect their hard-earned practice reputation.
So, how do you create a strong online presence, you ask? It’s straight forward and with the right infrastructure in place, you can move the needle pretty quickly, while continuing to optimize and build over time. Here are some of the basics:
- Update all online business listings: People need to find you, so make sure all online profiles and business listings on review sites reflect your practices’ correct address, phone number, photos, etc.
- Monitor online review sites: this should be an important part of your practice’s reputation management strategy. If you take charge of your online reviews, you can identify gaps in care and service and address potential problems before they get out of hand. Review websites such as Google+, Yelp, Healthgrades and Vitals are among the sites with the highest visits, influencing physicians overall online reputation.
- Respond to reviews (positive ones too!): Responding to reviews is a must. It shows unsatisfied customers you have heard them and are hopefully working to fix the problem; and it lets the happy customers know you appreciate them and their business.
- Request reviews: physicians need to encourage those happy, satisfied patients to review them first…and often. Ultimately, the best way to ensure good reviews for your practice is to think of patients as consumers…because they are!
People are going to talk. It’s up to you to control the conversation. To learn more about improving your SEO and online reputation and accelerate reoccurring patient visits and revenue, contact KHJ at firstname.lastname@example.org or 617-241-8000.