How Patient Reviews Impact Your Practice & Are They Allowed?
As doctors, you are driven by your desire to help and treat patients when they are most in need. However, how do you reach patients and let them know that they can trust you with their treatment plan? Patient reviews are one of the simplest ways to get other patients to know about the conditions you manage and the services you provide.
Patient reviews on Google also increase your site’s ranking, which in turn increases your practice’s searchability – helping patients find you efficiently and effectively. With the recent news, the big question on everyone’s mind is ‘Are patient reviews allowed?‘. In short, yes. However, there are some things to note when it comes to patient reviews, which we will also discuss in this article.
Table of Contents:
#1 Are Reviews Proof That Your Clinic Is Trustworthy?
With the Internet becoming an integral part of our lives, online reviews often convert to social proof. Meaning that we are more likely to trust a business (or clinic) that someone has backed up, even if they are a complete stranger!
Potential patients will be looking for clinics and doctors that others have reported having a good experience with. Think of an online review as being as good as a personal recommendation. They allow potential patients insight into your clinic and what an experience with you would be like. Therefore, positive reviews do act as proof that your clinic is trustworthy.
#2 Do Patient Reviews Help Make You Visible?
As mentioned, the Internet has become such a significant part of our day-to-day lives that many of us turn to it for everything from ordering groceries to looking for a book recommendation. Having said this, it is safe to say that potential patients are also scouring the Internet in search of a doctor they think will best help them.
Google, and many other search engines, choose what searches to rank higher based on complicated algorithms. While these algorithms’ specifics are kept a secret, we do know some of the contributing factors. We understand that search engines take into account positive reviews for businesses.
If your clinic matches other terms within a search, positive reviews will likely mean that you will come up above another clinic that fit the same terms but lacked these reviews.
#3 How Are Reviews Becoming an Increasingly Critical Step in Decision Making?
Having read points #1 and #2, you should now have an understanding of how people are using the Internet to help make their lives easier. Prior to the Internet that we know today, people may have asked friends and family for recommendations before making a decision. So many people are comfortable taking the advice of complete strangers on the Internet because a stranger on the Internet leaving a review typically has nothing to gain by doing so.
This is why, especially when it comes to the medical industry, asking for or coercing patients into giving a review is strictly not allowed. While it may be acceptable to secure positive reviews or write-ups for an array of other products, search engines like Google, take reviews pertaining to doctors and clinics very seriously.
While you are allowed to have reviews, you must neither ask for nor persuade patients to leave a review.
#4 Can I Respond to Patient Reviews?
Yes, you can. Respond to positive reviews by thanking your patient for taking the time to review your clinic and service. However, when it comes to negative reviews, steer clear from appearing aggravated. Instead, thank them for taking the time to leave feedback, and ask how you might improve in the future. Encourage them to leave a method of contacting them and see what you can do to create a more pleasant patient journey in the future.
In light of recent events, MOH’s guidelines have been reiterated. You want to ensure that your reviews remain clear as an external review left by a patient and not be seen or misconstrued as an advertisement. Amongst other rules, while advertisements in the medical industry are permitted, they must adhere to a set of guidelines.
#5 How Do Patient Reviews Give You Necessary Feedback?
While the aim is to only receive positive reviews from patients, negative feedback should be seen as a way to help you and your clinic improve. Remember how we mentioned that you are impartial from reviews left by patients? You may not be able to control what someone says, however, you can draw from a negative review and aim to improve where possible.
Alternatively, positive reviews let you know which areas you are succeeding in. These are the areas which you should aim to keep going strong. Either way, both positive and negative feedback serve your clinic and practice.
In conclusion, reviews are an essential part of owning any business – the medical industry is not excluded! However, as we are dealing with a more sensitive area, it is imperative that you adhere to specific guidelines and restrictions. Fight the urge to reply negatively to bad reviews, instead find the areas that need improvement, act accordingly, and reply with kindness and grace.
We assure you that online reviews are a good thing – they help make you more visible and add credibility to your practice. Which is precisely what you want, to be able to be found by patients who require your services and for them to be able to trust you with their conditions.