Medical practices that ignore their online ratings or don’t respond to negative comments posted by patients may be doing so at their peril.
A recent patient survey conducted by PatientPop.com, a consulting firm that helps practices develop and manage their web presence, finds that online ratings and patient comments play a significant role in many people’s choice of healthcare providers. For example, nearly 70 percent of respondents said that online reviews and star ratings were “extremely” or “very” important in their choice of a doctor or dentist.
When asked which information sources contributed to their decision when choosing a doctor or other provider, 59 percent cited online reviews from other patients, and 49.9 percent said information found on other websites, such as Google and Yelp. Those were followed by the practice’s own website (38.4 percent) and response time to an online request (21.1 percent.)
Overall, survey respondents said they rely, in order, on online patient reviews, information on third-party websites and a practice’s own website when first forming an opinion about a provider and eventually selecting one for care.
The third-party websites respondents consulted most frequently for provider ratings were Google, WebMD, Yelp and Healthgrades.
Perhaps not surprisingly, survey respondents between the ages of 30 and 44 were the most active in searching for care and posting reviews online, and using patient reviews to form their opinions of providers.
The survey also found that a majority (51.8 percent) of those who posted negative online reviews were never contacted about the concerns expressed in their review.
But among those who were, just over 60 percent said they were either “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with the response they received.
The survey authors note that most opinions and experiences patients share online are positive. Consequently, “medical and dental practices, especially those in highly competitive markets, should take action to encourage more patients to share feedback.”