Why Responding to Patient Reviews Is Crucial

POSTED ON: Apr 16, 2024

Why Responding to Patient Reviews Is Crucial Lauren Parr

Why Responding to Patient Reviews Is Crucial

Patient reviews are becoming increasingly important in the healthcare industry as more prospective patients turn online to get valuable insights concerning healthcare providers. According to a recent RepuGen Patient Review Survey, 73% of patients use online reviews when finding a new doctor. 

Another study reveals that more than threefold of patients performing an online search eventually land on hospital sites, and 44% of patients who search hospitals on mobiles schedule an appointment. With the rise of consumer-driven healthcare, reviews play a crucial role in shaping patients' decisions. 

However, simply acquiring reviews is not enough. Healthcare providers must pay attention to patient reviews by responding to them promptly and professionally. Do you know why? Read on.

Here is why responding to patient reviews is essential for healthcare providers. 

Building Trust and Showing You Care

According to surveys, 88% of people choose a provider that responds to reviews, and 13.93% of patients report that they consider "responses to online reviews" when choosing a provider (RepuGen Patient Review Survey 2024). This emphasizes the importance of responding to reviews, whether positive or negative. Responding to reviews demonstrates that they truly value their patients' experiences and opinions. 

While responding to positive reviews shows appreciation for the kind words and reinforces the positive relationship between the patient and the provider, responding to negative reviews allows providers to address any concerns or issues patients raise, showing a commitment to improving the quality of care provided. 

Overall, actively engaging with patient reviews helps to build trust, improve patient satisfaction, and enhance the overall reputation of a medical practice.

The Power of Responding: Reap the Benefits

1. Enhanced Reputation

According to Brightlocal, 79% of individuals will likely leave a positive review if a business turns an initially negative experience into a positive one. So, addressing negative reviews professionally and empathetically helps demonstrate good patient service and allows you to resolve any issues. 

This way, you can show prospects that you are proactive in addressing concerns and increase your reputation and credibility.

2. Attract New Patients

Positive reviews indicate exceptional care and service. By responding thoughtfully to these reviews, you express gratitude and appreciation for the feedback while ensuring commitment to high-quality patient care.

Potential patients trust a practice that responds to reviews. Engaging with patient reviews can create a positive impression and help build trust with those seeking a healthcare provider, eventually increasing your patient acquisition rates.

3. Patient Loyalty

Addressing reviews, especially negative ones, can help build patient loyalty and retention rates in the long run. When patients' feedback and concerns are addressed promptly, the healthcare provider values their opinions and is committed to providing excellent care. 

This level of attentiveness and responsiveness builds trust and rapport with patients, making them more likely to continue seeking services from that provider in the future.

4. Search Engine Optimization

Google says responding to reviews is a way for a business to improve its search engine ranking on its platform. Responding to reviews demonstrates to search engines that your practice values patient feedback. 

This can boost your practice's credibility and trustworthiness among search engines and potential patients, ultimately improving your search engine ranking and making your practice more visible to those who are looking for healthcare services.

5. Increased Conversions

When people see that you are actively engaging with patients and addressing any concerns or questions they may have, they are more likely to leave a review or feel confident in booking an appointment with your practice. 

According to studies, 97% of review readers also consider businesses' responses, and businesses with the highest response rate (8.13 percent) saw an average conversion rate of 13.86%. So, responding to reviews can turn online praise into real-world appointments, increasing your practice growth.

Crafting Professional and HIPAA-Compliant Responses

1. Responding Promptly Matters

Online reviews can make or break a business. According to a Yelp study, 33% of users will likely upgrade their reviews if businesses respond to them with a personalized message. 

Prompt responses show patients that their feedback is valued and that the practice is attentive to their concerns. Also, responding quickly can help mitigate any negative feedback before it escalates while improving your online reputation and building trust with potential patients.

2. Understanding HIPAA

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is enacted to protect the privacy and security of patients' health information. This includes details like diagnoses, treatment history, and insurance information.

Patients have the right to access and correct their records. However, healthcare providers can only share this information without consent for treatment, payment, or internal operations. Anything else requires patient authorization. Breaches come with hefty fines, so healthcare providers should avoid disclosing patient details in public reviews.

Responding to Negative Reviews: A Step-by-Step Guide

1. Acknowledge the Patient's Experience

Start by thanking the patient for taking the time to share their experience and express your regret (in an empathetic and respectful manner) that they were not fully satisfied. For example, you can say, "We are sorry to hear you had a negative experience at our clinic. "

2. Take Accountability

Even if you disagree with their assessment of the services provided, just take liability for the situation and inconvenience caused and offer sincere apologies. (For example, "We apologize that you had a long wait time during your recent visit.")

3. Offer Resolution (If Applicable)

If a review mentions a specific issue, such as long wait times, acknowledge the concern and provide insight into the steps to address it. For example, you can say that we are implementing new scheduling systems to reduce wait times.

4. Encourage Private Communication

Invite the patient to contact you directly via phone or email to create an opportunity for a more detailed discussion and potential resolution of any issues they may have experienced. 

This approach shows that you value their feedback and are willing to address their concerns confidentially. (For example, "We want to learn more about your experience. Please feel free to contact us directly at...") 

Responding to Positive Reviews: A Simple Approach

Positive reviews are gold. They show you're providing great care and attract new patients who read reviews. A simple "thank you" shows appreciation and reinforces a culture of excellence, leading to better patient outcomes and a stronger reputation. 

Dealing with Fake or Spam Reviews

Fake reviews are everywhere, making it tough to find real patient experiences. Look out for red flags like:

  • Irrelevant details: Ranting about something unrelated to your service.
  • Exaggerated language: All caps and excessive exclamation points.
  • Generic praise or complaints: "Amazing!" or "Worst ever!" with no specifics.

If you suspect a fake review, report it to the platform. If a reviewer seems lost (posted on the wrong platform), reply politely and point them in the right direction. It shows professionalism and keeps your reviews genuine.

Preventing Negative Reviews: Proactive Patient Satisfaction Strategies

1. Actively Listen to Patient Feedback

Active listening allows healthcare providers to better understand patients' concerns and experiences. It also allows them to collect precise data and improve their diagnostic and treatment strategies.

2. Use Feedback to Make Targeted Improvements

Patients' feedback and insights provide valuable information that can help healthcare providers identify areas for improvement, enhance patient satisfaction, and ultimately, deliver better care. 

For example, if a patient reports poor front-desk service, you can pinpoint areas where your staff may need additional training or support to improve patient experience. 

3. Conduct Patient Satisfaction Surveys

Conducting offline and online patient satisfaction surveys helps gain valuable insights into the patient experience and their needs and preferences. This helps healthcare providers to update services accordingly to strengthen patient-provider relationships and patient satisfaction.

4. Additional Strategies

  • Communicate Clearly: Keep your patients informed about their appointment schedule, potential wait times, and updates on any changes in procedures that may interfere with their wait times or schedule. This helps avoid confusion while improving the patient experience.
  • Have Friendly and Efficient Staff: Healthcare organizations can build positive relationships with patients by training staff to be courteous, efficient, and prompt in addressing patient concerns. Patients who feel heard and respected are more likely to return.
  • Personalized Messages: Sending personalized birthday greetings or appointment reminders is a great gesture to show patients that you value their business. While birthday greetings help patients feel loved and remembered beyond their medical needs, appointment reminders can help reduce no-shows.

Monitoring Online Reviews for Continuous Improvement 

1. Be Consistent

Reputation management is essential to maintain a positive online presence. One key aspect of managing online reputation is consistent monitoring of patient reviews and feedback. To be on track with patient reviews, use review notifications offered by most platforms. 

For example, RepuGen is an online healthcare reputation management tool that provides real-time alerts for new reviews. This enables healthcare practices to respond swiftly to positive and negative feedback, showcasing their commitment to patient satisfaction. 

Also, you can regularly (weekly or bi-weekly) check all major review platforms to stay informed about what patients say about your services. 

2. Analyzing Patient Feedback

Patient reviews are goldmines for understanding their needs and where you excel. Use them to identify:

  • Strengths & Weaknesses: Reviews highlight positive aspects like kind care and effective treatment, but can also reveal areas for improvement like long wait times.
  • Recurring Issues: If specific problems keep popping up (e.g., long waits), address them directly (e.g., streamline scheduling).

This feedback loop helps you continuously improve and attract new patients.

Final Thoughts on Building a Positive Online Reputation

With online reviews acting as the modern doctor recommendation, healthcare providers must prioritize their online presence. Responding to reviews, both positive and negative, is key. Thanking patients for positive feedback strengthens the patient-provider relationship. Addressing negative reviews with empathy and offering solutions offline demonstrates professionalism and a commitment to improvement. Proactive measures like prompt issue resolution and open communication further solidify a positive online reputation, ultimately attracting and retaining patients. 

Take Control of Your Online Reputation

The sheer volume of online reviews makes it easy to get overwhelmed and feel lost in the flood of opinions. However, worry not! With the assistance of tools like ReplyWize by RepuGen, healthcare providers can seamlessly manage their patient feedback, bolstering their online presence and enriching patient satisfaction.

Plus, with RepuGen's exclusive offer of six months of free Review Pulse, providers can effortlessly track their patients' pulse alongside their reviews, all within a single platform. Ready to take charge of your online reputation? Schedule a live demo today and witness the transformative power of proactive review management.

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