The age of healthcare consumerism is here and patients are taking on a greater role in both managing and paying for their health services. The shift comes with more informed patients, now considering cost and quality of care during their decision-making process.
Patients now have more access to data about their healthcare options and the power to make more informed decisions about their care. With increased access to the internet, whether on a desktop, mobile phone, or tablet, patients can quickly research their healthcare options with just a few taps of a screen.
One of the most important factors that prospective patients consider before choosing a new healthcare provider is positive reviews from other patients. They want to ensure a high quality of care, especially considering rising out-of-pocket costs.
While many other factors still matter, like accepted insurance, location, and appointment availability, 81% of people report using online reviews to help them choose a new healthcare provider in their area.
Online Reviews and Healthcare Consumerism
Patients are now expecting high-quality care, strong communication, and great service with their healthcare providers. Much like choosing a new restaurant or hair salon, patients are turning to online reviews for information on how healthcare practices treat their patients.
With rising out-of-pocket costs and the onus placed on the patient to make important care decisions, they expect top-tier experiences.
Consistent positive online reviews help to show prospective patients that a provider treats their patients well, has a clean facility, doesn’t have excessive wait times, has great bedside manner, and ability to explain all treatment options.
Why Online Reviews are Important in the Era of Healthcare Consumerism
Prospective patients research their new healthcare providers in the same way they might look up a new local restaurant or business in town. Consumers look online for a business’s positive reviews, photos, and any more information they need.
Thus, an online presence is not complete without consistent, recent positive reviews, since 80% of prospective patients say the age of a review is relevant when making their decision.
1. Reviews impact local search rankings
Getting your healthcare practice on Google’s map pack can be difficult without consistent reviews. Positive reviews show Google that your business is open, legitimate, and operational, and gives you a greater chance of being listed on the map pack.
2. Prospective patients check reviews before selecting a provider
With a staggering 81% of people using online reviews to help them choose a new local healthcare provider, positive and current reviews are imperative to a successful practice.
Keep in mind that it is not enough to let reviews passively roll in. Proactive review acquisition, the process of soliciting reviews from current patients, is necessary for keeping your online reputation fresh and attractive.
3. Reviews provide valuable insight into how patients feel
Knowing how patients feel about your healthcare practice is vital for a successful future. Regularly checking in to see what patients are saying in their online reviews is important, as their feedback can be utilized to improve your practice and patient experience.
This can come full circle, as positive patient experience is one of the most important factors to acquire more patients in the age of healthcare consumerism.
4. Reviews improve your search engine rankings
Your healthcare practice’s internet presence includes your online reviews, which are considered by search engines when patients search online. In fact, online reviews have grown in
importance in the past few years in terms of local SEO, proving that prospective patients find positive reviews greatly significant in their search for a new healthcare provider.
It is important to manage your reviews as well, making sure to publicly reply to all reviews. This shows that you care about what patients are saying, and find importance in dedicating the time to thank the patients who leave positive reviews, and reply properly to negative reviews offering an opportunity for resolution.
A steady stream of positive reviews greatly helps to build a stellar online reputation for your practice. When prospective patients are able to browse through their options and see that your practice is full of new 5-star reviews, they see a successful experience.
5. Reviews help build and maintain a loyal patient base
A patient’s first impression of your healthcare practice is most likely going to be your online reputation. Impress them from the beginning with 5-star reviews and keep them around with a great online presence, and your patient base will grow.
The top three most important factors for patients selecting a healthcare provider, in order, are the practice’s online reviews, doctor referrals, and friend/family referrals. With patients trusting online reviews even over their own friends and family, it is extremely important to acquire positive reviews to grow a loyal patient base.
As healthcare providers prepare for their future, they must prioritize the patient as a consumer. Healthcare consumerism gives patients greater autonomy and a plethora of options when it comes to choosing who will be in charge of their care.
Patients are more informed than ever and wish to make the best decisions possible. Showing them that your practice is highly rated through reviews is one of the best ways to get more patients through your door– and coming back for the years to come.
This post has been sponsored by GMR Web Team
Ajay Prasad is a healthcare marketing and reputation management expert and founder of GMR Web Team, a healthcare digital marketing company. He guides small and medium size healthcare practices in customizing their online marketing strategy, focused on building a loyal base of patients and improving their patient acquisition. Ajay believes in an improved patient experience as the key to successful healthcare business, which can be accomplished with the right marketing plan in place.