Are Women More Investigative Than Men When It Comes To Choosing a Doctor?
Online reviews play an undeniable role in a patients' doctor selection process. In July of 2020, we surveyed patients across the United States and our findings showed that 80% of patients use online reviews when they are selecting a doctor.
Since we know that online reviews are vital to a patients’ doctor selection process, we wanted to know the answer to another question: Does gender play a role in how online reviews are used by patients when selecting a doctor? To find the answer, we surveyed 1,500 people across the United States, who identified themselves as male or female, and here is what we found.
1. Initial Research before Selecting a Doctor
81% of women compared to 76% of men consider online reviews when selecting a healthcare provider. Does this mean that women are more investigative than men when it comes to choosing a doctor?
Since the difference is only marginally higher, this figure implies that women may be somewhat more conscious and investigative than men when it comes to considering online reviews.
Considering that the majority of both men and women rely on online reviews while selecting healthcare providers, it is highly essential for healthcare providers to develop and maintain a positive online presence.
2. Selecting a Doctor Based on Online Reviews
Out of the 81% of women and 76% of men who consider online reviews, three distinct levels of review prioritization can be inferred.
- Level 1 - "Not so Important"
Even among those who took the time to go through online reviews, 12% of women and 17% of men were unaffected by the healthcare provider’s review ratings. These men and women stated that they check prospective healthcare providers’ reviews, but they do not factor into their decision.
- Level 2 - "Somewhat Important"
54% of women and 51% of men considered online reviews somewhat important when selecting a doctor. They rendered some, if not all importance to online reviews and could be swayed into action or inaction based on them, since they stated that reviews are some of the many factors that they consider important when selecting a healthcare provider.
- Level 3 - "Undeniably Important"
Interestingly, 31% of women and 29% of men, are not only actively engaged in researching online reviews prior to selecting a doctor, but they will not even consider visiting any healthcare provider who has a poor online reputation.
The three levels of review prioritization highlight a significant trend. At least 85% of women and 80% of men are giving thoughtful consideration to the online reviews of healthcare providers. Even those who consider online reviews to be moderately important (54% of women and 51% of men) constitute more than half of the patient base and should not be ignored. Since patients both men and women consider online reviews important in their provider selection process, it is vital for healthcare providers to maintain a positive reputation in order to grow their patient base.
3. Relative Ranks and Credibility of the Online Review Sites
Among all healthcare related review sites, Google emerged as the most used with 76% of women and 77% of men checking their potential doctors’ online reputation on that site.
In terms of credibility, Google also outranked its competitors by a considerable portion of the population, with 36% of women and 39% of men vouching for the trustworthiness of Google’s reviews. WebMD and Healthgrades followed closely after Google and Facebook and Vitals being the least trusted of all review sites by men and women.
- Google is the market leader when it comes to online reviews, with 76% of women and 77% of men relying on Google reviews. The next most trusted review site is WebMD, with 38% of women and 36% of men weighing in. However, this doesn't imply that the other review sites should be ignored as the potential patient may land on a poorly managed review site and decide not to visit that practice solely based on those online reviews.
- Healthcare providers should be visible to potential patients when they are searched on Google. This can be made possible only through an excellent online presence with equally good reviews on Google that would encourage the patients to seek more information on the services provided.
- Since WebMD and Healthgrades were ranked the second and third most credible review sites by patients, healthcare providers ought to pay the same level of attention to these sites and follow the same strategy to improve their online presence and reputation so that they don’t miss out on potential patients.
- Only 7% of women and 4% of men count on Facebook reviews, while for Vitals, the figures stand at 3% for women and 5% for men. Though the percentage of patients considering Facebook and Vitals reviews is the lowest, it does not mean that healthcare providers should not manage their online reviews on these platforms. Although they are small percentages, some patients are still considering these online platforms to select their healthcare providers.
4. The Recency of the Last Written Review
An almost equal percentage of women and men, 78% and 77% respectively, connected the age of the review to its relevance.
While men allowed longer grace periods, with only 25% of them considering reviews older than 2 years to be obsolete, 41% of women refused to rely on reviews greater than 2 years old.
Keeping tabs on how often online reviews are posted could be difficult without the help of a reputation management solution. However, it is important to ensure that healthcare providers are constantly receiving online reviews to avoid the risk of losing a potential patient to stale data on relevant review sites.
5. Referrals by Other Healthcare Providers
Being referred by another medical professional emerged as an absolute gamechanger in the selection of healthcare providers for patients. What your medical colleagues think of you truly matters, as our findings show that 60% of women and 55% of men counted heavily on such referrals before considering a healthcare provider.
Networking and cooperation among healthcare providers and other related professions can ensure a greater outreach to potential patients. Apart from online reviews, both women and men rely heavily on the referrals of their existing healthcare providers before selecting a new doctor.
The role of online reviews in the patient's healthcare selection process is undeniably fascinating. Certain factors like the age of a review or the credibility of online review sites play an essential role, especially with women, who statistically appear to be quite dependent on online reviews for their health-related decisions.
Considering how both men and women appear to use online reviews in their doctor selection process, a proper method should be used to ensure your online reputation accurately shows how satisfied your patients truly are. Acknowledging the unique needs of both genders and understanding what drives their choices is the key to establishing a successful, profitable, and patient-oriented practice.
RepuGen is a leading healthcare reputation management solution, founded by Ajay Prasad, a digital marketer and online reputation evangelist. Through regular review generation, patient acquisition, and patient retention, the company has provided exceptional assistance to hundreds of health care practices across the United States. RepuGen’s robust reputation management tool has been specifically designed to help health care providers manage their online reviews to match actual patient satisfaction.