According to industry research, 91 percent of consumers read internet reviews on a regular basis, and 84 percent trust online ratings as much as they would trust a personal recommendation. This makes establishing and maintaining a positive internet reputation critical to establishing a prosperous optometrist or ophthalmic business.
Here’s how to acquire more positive ratings, avoid poor ones, and capitalize on a good online reputation to drive traffic and revenue.
Why Does Your Online Reputation Matter?
Online physician reviews are evidence that your service offerings are of high quality. Potential patients may be influenced by these comments when selecting and making an appointment with a medical professional.
In regard to medical care, consumers tend to believe the majority of what they see on internet platforms and digital networks. Maintaining your online credibility is essential if you want to compete effectively in the healthcare sector. For every physician, online reviews can make or break a practice.
Most potential patients will check your top reviews before scheduling a consultation, making it absolutely imperative that the reviews they come across are good; studies indicate that consumers may make a decision when reading as few as one to six reviews.
How to Grow Your Reputation While Staying HIPAA Compliant
HIPAA compliance is required to ensure that technological, physical, and administrative protections for sensitive patient data are in place. The HIPAA Privacy Rule applies to all patients’ Personal Health Information, or PHI. PHI encompasses more than just a patient’s medical history though; it also covers any data that can be used to identify a person throughout their treatment.
This includes basic information like a person’s name, telephone number, email address, or birthday, as well as upcoming appointment dates and times, diagnoses, insurance information, and diagnostic test results. It’s important to be aware that your patients may readily disclose PHI while leaving an online review in the realm of internet reviews.
However, a healthcare institution’s response must adhere to HIPAA’s privacy requirement, or else the practice will face heavy fines or even litigation. Here are some do’s and don’ts when responding to online reviews:
- Ensure your staff replies to online reviews without mentioning the reviewers’ status as patients. You don’t have to remove patient feedback if it contains PHI, but you should never recognize the reviewer as a prior or current patient, and never reiterate or divulge further PHI in your answer.
- Write replies that demonstrate your commitment to enhancing the patient experience. Continue the dialogue where applicable and inform the patient of any modifications you’ve made after they gave you input.
- Follow up with patients that leave negative reviews to discuss matters discreetly. Ideally, over the phone and not via email. This creates a smaller paper trail and prevents you from incurring fines for emailing patients without their consent.
- Create pre-approved replies for a variety of circumstances. Develop these with your compliance and legal team and upload them to your online reputation management system so whomever is in charge of replying to patient remarks can choose from a drop-down selection.
- Avoid flagging negative reviews for removal. All negative and positive reviews should be left up unless they include vulgarity or defamation. Patients will grow skeptical if all of your reviews are good and there are no concerns from patients being addressed.
- Do not send an email to a patient without their express written permission. In many places, a person’s written consent to interact with them online is mandatory.
Tips for Monitoring and Responding to Reviews
Strategies for Positive Reviews
Patient feedback is critical for healthcare providers. Nonetheless, not all patients recognize the importance of their recommendations, and they will likely not write a review unless you encourage them to. Ask your patients to provide detailed information in their review, such as how they felt about your appointment booking system, the availability of parking at your clinic, and the friendliness of your staff.
Keep your patient feedback forms brief and easy to complete so patients don’t get discouraged from filling them out because of how long they are. You can also ask patients to share their reviews on social media.
Satisfactory patient experiences lead to positive reviews. When patient satisfaction improves, your clinic’s entire reputation improves naturally. From the minute patients enter your facility until they leave, a multitude of things may influence their experience.
Web reviews often include observations about your team’s attitude, available amenities, the cost of products or services, their quality, and more. Giving these aspects special attention can help you win patient trust and favorable feedback.
It’s important to make a habit of collecting and sharing good patient feedback on a regular basis. You also want to highlight or feature these reviews, making them more prominent so more patients see them. On your website’s home page, showcase your positive ratings and patient testimonials to pique the curiosity of new patients. When people visit your site, these testimonies are more likely to motivate them to schedule an appointment at your office.
Strategies for Negative Reviews
No medical provider goes their entire career without at least a few emotionally heated complaints on the internet. These are often unfounded, so try not to allow them to cause additional stress. Instead, look at these critiques as opportunities to learn.
Make time to think about and carefully respond to their concerns. Offer potential dispute resolution methods or compensations. When a disappointed patient recognizes your attempts to remedy the situation, they are more likely to change their minds — and their online review. Many of your dissatisfied patients will return to your practice if you can rectify their complaints swiftly and effectively.
Rick Ostopowicz, the Marketing Director for Eurofins E&E’s North American branch, says, “One thing that providers need to remember is that the responses given are not just for the patients leaving the feedback; in fact, many patients will simply rant online and then move on to rant about something or someone else. Rather, the responses should show other potential patients who are researching a practice or facility that the provider listens, empathizes, takes all feedback seriously, and addresses matters promptly.”
Many patients are ready to disregard poor evaluations depending on the circumstances. Try not to feel frightened or overwhelmed by negative reviews but rather confront them head-on. When you contemplate how many different review websites there are for healthcare practitioners now, it sounds far easier than it actually is.
However, marketing software allows your practice to effortlessly monitor popular review websites and reply to critical reviews without devoting excessive time or resources to reputation management.
How Better Reputation Management for Optometrists Helps
Luckily, there are now a plethora of internet tools available to assist you in efficiently managing patient feedback. These tools can do things like sending automated messages to patients to ask them to post a review online about their experience or concerns immediately after their appointment. You can even choose to send follow-ups to patients that were asked or offered to leave a review but have not yet.
You’ll be able to communicate with your patients more effectively in this manner, since manually checking your internet reviews may be time-consuming. A professional digital marketing partner may also assist healthcare providers with their online reviews, advertising, and even their entire digital presence.
The result is usually more traffic and a higher conversion rate than optometric practices that don’t utilize these resources. Without good online reputation management for optometrists, eyecare practices may find it difficult to garner both new and repeat business from patients. If you notice that you’re not getting as many appointments on the books as you once did, you may need help managing your digital reputation.
Attend a Surefire Local Marketing Platform Demo
Surefire Local gives you control over your practice’s digital presence across all channels with the industry’s most comprehensive marketing solution. Create emotional ties with your potential patients, cut out the middleman, trim costs, and convey a stronger, more compelling narrative about your practice.
Our team has had the pleasure of working with thousands of small businesses across the country, many of who are healthcare professionals in a wide variety of specialties, and we’ve seen many of them double or even quadruple their revenues as a result of our effective marketing strategies.
Surefire Local will be there to help as more medical practices take steps to enhance efficiency, obtain greater transparency of advertising spend and ROI, and manage patients and content in a single convenient location.
Surefire Local specializes in reputation management for optometrists and ophthalmologists and can help strengthen your practice’s online presence. Our goal is to help you drive more prospects and conversions, which in turn directly translates to more patients making appointments at your office.
Attend a Surefire Local marketing platform demo today or contact us at (703) 884-8442. Our team is available now to answer your questions and provide you with the information you need to make informed decisions about your online advertising efforts and how to make the most of your digital presence.