For healthcare practices, the coming year demands a focus on online reviews as part of a holistic marketing strategy targeting people actively seeking healthcare practitioners.
With 2019 just weeks away, a significant healthcare trend will continue into another calendar year: A majority of people looking for a healthcare provider — a new general practitioner, dentist, specialist, or even a medispa to enhance wellness — will go online to conduct their search. Practices without a strategy heavily focused on online reputation management and other digital marketing will simply not be able to compete.
Data Points: The Importance of Online Reviews
I can share the impact of online reviews via first-hand experience helping thousands of healthcare providers. But even if you look just to self-reported data from patients, there’s no mistaking the influence of online reviews in healthcare.
A Software Advice survey shows that 72% of people check online reviews as their first step in finding a new provider. Even more telling from that survey, when a patient is considering two providers online, they are likely to choose the one with better reviews 91% of the time.
Patients will even stretch their wallets for a well-reviewed healthcare provider: Nearly half of respondents (47%) in that same survey say they would go out-of-network for a doctor who has similar qualifications to an in-network doctor, but has more favorable reviews. And, according to our own PatientPop 2018 Healthcare Providers Survey Report, 80.3% of practices said online reviews affect a patient's opinion of their practice, and 62.4% are extremely or very concerned about receiving negative patient reviews.
Finally, a couple insights from a new survey that reiterate the importance of online reviews for both doctor and patient: 70% of millennials report sharing doctor and hospital experiences online. The same percentage of people say their choice of doctor was influenced by online ratings and reviews, and 41% admitted checking out a doctor online even when referred by another provider.
Target Marketing Around Online Reviews
It’s obviously essential for doctors to track their online reviews (total number of reviews, average star rating, and frequency of reviews), but they also need to maintain a strong presence at the top of Google search results. You can’t impress prospective patients if they can’t find you in the first place.
An all-in-one digital growth platform like ours at PatientPop is designed to help practices and providers achieve a strong overall web presence, which includes landing at the top of search results and growing a stellar online reputation. By optimizing online profiles and practice websites, healthcare practices can achieve both a strong SEO and a top reputation, a combination that should be continuously tweaked and improved to attract patients actively seeking healthcare information online.
Marketing Opportunities Through Social Questions and Answers
As reflected by their use of online reviews and other interactive functionality, patients have grown comfortable using search tools and social media to interact with healthcare providers. In 2019, it’s imperative that doctors use services like Facebook Messenger and Google Questions & Answers to reply to patients’ questions — and subtly market their practices in the process. Doing so can greatly increase engagement and satisfaction, and will open up the lines of communication so providers can share information about new services, offer promotions, and remind patients to schedule appointments.
Work on Wellness Content
The concept of wellness — becoming more aware of, and making conscious choices toward, a healthier, more fulfilling life — has significantly grown in popularity in recent years. For healthcare providers, wellness represents a valuable opportunity to market their practices by sharing unique and helpful content via blogs, social media posts, and videos.
This can help develop a relationship with patients so they will have their own health top-of-mind… as well as the care and services offered their healthcare provider.
Regardless of size or medical specialty, every healthcare practice will need to focus on a steady, positive flow of interaction and online reviews in 2019 to maintain a healthy rate of acquisition. This effort should be rooted in ensuring patient satisfaction, and engaging patients online in ways that were never available to doctors in the past.
Keep in touch: www.patientpop.com