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The power of online reviews for health care practices beyond patient attraction and retention

Blog
Article

How to leverage a resource to bring patients in the door to improve their health and your bottom line.

customer review satisfaction feedback online survey: © Summit Art Creations - stock.adobe.com

© Summit Art Creations - stock.adobe.com

In today's digital age, online reviews have become the cornerstone of establishing and maintaining a thriving health care practice and their importance cannot be overstated. Independent health care practices rely on online ratings and reviews to attract new patients and establish themselves as leading, recognizable providers in their community. This is especially true for attracting younger patients, as 72% of Millennials state that they rely on online reviews before scheduling physician appointments, and 77% consider those reviews more important when accompanied by a written explanation vs. just a star or numerical rating, according to a recent survey conducted by Weave.

While attracting and retaining patients is the primary goal for health care practices, online reviews have the potential to impact the bottom line in more ways than one. Most practices already have online reviews set up, but few are utilizing them to their full potential. Beyond attracting new patients, there are numerous ways to leverage the reviews collected so far to yield a high return on investment. Each review a practice receives should be viewed as valuable marketing collateral.

Growing followers on social media

© Weave

Chris Baird
© Weave

In the age of social media dominance, growing your practice's online presence is crucial. Positive online reviews can serve as a goldmine of content for social media accounts. A few ways to maximize the online review someone leaves include creating engaging visuals with the text from your favorite reviews, and highlighting aspects like the ease of scheduling appointments or the speed of patient care. Then, practices can boost these posts on social media platforms to maximize visibility.

Another understated way to generate more engagement is to ask satisfied patients if you can tag them in your post. People like to be tagged and interacted with, and the potential reach of having someone repost something they are tagged in is exponential for a small practice. Their endorsement can greatly help expand online reach and act as an indirect referral tactic.

Maintaining loyal clientele

Everyone has had a friend who’s been going to the same dentist for 10 years or a person who raves about their caring physician. Essentially, local to their core.

Loyalty in health care is built on trust, and online reviews can help reinforce that trust. Regularly featuring positive reviews on your website or in your marketing materials reminds existing patients why they chose your practice in the first place. It reassures them that they made the right decision and fosters a deep sense of loyalty.

Showcasing new services and products

Online reviews can also be a valuable tool for health care practices looking to introduce new services or products. After a patient has tried the new offering or product, personally ask them what they think, and make sure to get approval to use their testimonial. Then, share that patient’s testimonial that specifically mentions the new offerings and highlights these reviews on your website or in marketing campaigns. This adds credibility to your new services and encourages existing patients to explore these options, as well as draws in new patients looking for that specific offering.

Growing your business

Expanding your patient base and growing your practice are ongoing goals. Online reviews can play a pivotal role here as well. Positive reviews serve as third-party validation, reassuring potential patients that your practice is worth considering. When potential patients see numerous positive reviews, it builds confidence in your expertise and the quality of care you provide. This increased confidence often translates into a higher volume of patients seeking your services.

Utilizing modern technology for maximum impact

With modern technology, maximizing the potential of online reviews is significantly easier. To make the most of online reviews, health care practice owners can employ several strategies, including:

  • Collect more reviews, regularly: Loyal customers are typically happy to leave a review, it just doesn’t cross their mind to do so after visiting their physician. Use software solutions to send text messages to patients, requesting reviews on different review sites. By consistently collecting reviews, you can build a robust repository of patient feedback.
  • Respond promptly and effectively: Responding to online reviews should be a high priority, even if they are negative ones. Acknowledge whatever feedback the patient offers and address their concerns promptly, and with care. Not only is this good practice across the board, it shows that you value patient opinions and are committed to providing excellent care.
  • Understand the Ts&Cs: Before using online reviews for marketing purposes, familiarize yourself with the terms and conditions set by platforms like Google, Facebook, and Yelp. For example, Google makes providers get permission from reviewers before using their comments in marketing materials. Ensure compliance to avoid any legal issues.
  • Use them creatively: As outlined above, online reviews offer numerous creative opportunities. Share compelling patient stories on social media, create online ad campaigns featuring testimonials, incorporate quotes into direct mail marketing, prominently display reviews on your website, and even consider using reviews for branded merchandise.

As practice owners navigate the new digital landscape of health care, online reviews have emerged as a simple yet highly effective tool for attracting patients, building local communities, and creating compelling marketing content. Independent health care practices that recognize the potential of online reviews and leverage them creatively will find their patient base growing and their reputation soaring.

So, don't let those valuable reviews collect dust. Embrace them, use them strategically, and watch as your practice flourishes in the era of digital health care.

Chris Baird is chief marketing officer at Weave. He is a data-driven and growth-minded marketer with a proven track record and nearly two decades of experience in high-growth B2B SaaS companies.

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