1990: A patient asks their physician to refer them to a trusted specialist--you see an increase in patients.
2015: A patient searches online for the “best dermatologist in Boston”--you have no online presence, and hence, see fewer new patients.
We’ve prioritized the 4 quickest ways to make the most of your online reputation:
1. Create a Profile (Right Now)
It takes 2 minutes and is invaluable.
Inevitably, your name will appear online--it’s up to you to get good ratings next to it.
Dr. Skipper has four stars next to his name, and you have none. Think of it this way: a patient knows something about Dr. Skipper; they know nothing about you.
Yes, there is skepticism about the accuracy of many review sites. No, that doesn’t mean your patients won’t look at them. Patients are used to accessing the most highly-rated restaurants, salons, concerts, and more. For better or worse, it follows that they want to know who the best doctors are.
Where to start: Yelp, Vitals, Healthgrades, or RateMDs. Create at least one profile right now and then come back to this article. Having a profile is more important than which site your profile is on. Don't get lost in trying to find the "best" site to claim a profile on.
2. Ask Patients
Deal with issues before they occur by talking openly with patients. Ask them for positive and negative feedback about you and their overall experience (think booking the appointment, interacting with staff and nurses, wait time, medical decisions, billing, post-appointment follow-up).
First, talking to patients let’s you know if there are problems you need to fix (ex: wait times).
Second, regardless of the patient’s satisfaction before you ask, their satisfaction will increase merely from your genuine inquiry.
3. Respond to Reviews
If you followed step one, you know that by creating a profile, you can respond to reviews. Take the opportunity to respond to both positive and negative reviews. When responding to a negative review, show you care and want to remedy the situation (even if you know you can't).
Thank patients for bringing something to your attention or apologize for a miscommunication, but most importantly, make sure you offer them a way to reach out to you (an office email address will work).
There may not be much you can do to fix what they are upset about, but often, the patient just wants to feel heard. Reviewers can always edit a post after they’ve had a conversation with you, so keep interactions positive and authentic.
We at Luma Health understand that every step of the patient experience is important. Interested in a way to increase patient happiness? Click here.
Tashfeen Ekram, MD, is a radiologist, self-taught coder, healthcare innovator and Co-Founder of Luma Health. Contact him on Twitter at @tashfeenekramMD.