So many hospital administrators, marketing managers, and marketing directors see the importance of reputation management, yet struggle to get more patient reviews on Google, Facebook, and other online review platforms.
The good news is that there are simple strategies that can not only help you get more patient reviews but help you get more 5-star reviews and increase your average star rating.
In this article, we will cover everything you need to know to
- Assess your online reputation
- Build a strategy to improve your online ratings
- Encourage satisfied patients to review you online
- Lower the number and impact of negative reviews
- Increase your average star rating
- And of course, get more patient reviews
The most valuable step in getting more patient reviews and improving your online ratings is to implement a system that automatically encourages online reviews from your most satisfied patients while collecting private feedback from dissatisfied patients.
Learn more about MeRev, the hospital reputation management system that improves patient experiences.
How to Ask for Patient Reviews to Improve Your Online Ratings
Many hospital marketing managers, administrators, and other staff members are tasked with reputation management but aren’t sure how to ask for patient reviews. Or it may be that they are asking in a way that is ineffective. Either way, it’s crucial not only to play an active part in the conversation but to build a strategy for improvement that doesn’t drain your resources.
The first step in making a reputation management strategy is to know where you’re starting out.
Assess Your Current Online Reputation
Where are you now? Odds are if you’re reading this article there’s room for improvement.
Anything less than 4 stars isn’t enough.
80% of people say the star ratings they trust the most are 4.0, 4.5, and 5-star reviews.
Before you can create a strategy to get more patient reviews, you need to know where you stand. Even if you have not created a listing for your hospital or individual departments, you may have rogue listings generated by review platforms that are waiting to be claimed.
Here are some questions you’ll want to answer:
- What review sites are you currently on?
- How many reviews do you have?
- What’s your average star rating on each platform?
- Do you have any really bad reviews?
- How recent are your reviews?
- What is showing up on the first page of a Google search for your hospital?
In addition to a listing for your hospital’s name, there may be separate listings for each department. Be sure to include those listings in your hospital’s reputation analysis.
Once you know who’s saying what and where; you can build a strategy to improve your online reviews.
What’s The Best Review Site for Hospitals?
All reviews matter, but Google reviews are the most valuable.
And Facebook isn’t far behind. The right social media strategies are essential to hospitals these days so don’t let your profile hang out on the internet unattended.
Why are Google reviews so powerful?
80% of people use search engines to find local information online.
Most online searches, especially searches for local businesses, begin with a search engine and Google is by far the most popular. Google displays business information in search results automatically, like address, phone number, website, and reviews.
That means Google reviews are highly visible. Even if you’re not looking for them they show up on a search.
Here’s an example of what someone might see in their Google search results.
Though Google reviews are the most used, the strategies in this article can be applied to other platforms such as Facebook and Yelp, as well as other sites that patients turn to for their healthcare needs.
Not sure which review sites to focus on? Check out this article from Doctible that gives an in-depth report of patient review site popularity.
Reasons Happy Patients Might Not Leave Reviews
Whether you’re a small rural hospital or a large hospital system, you certainly have a number of satisfied patients who are not reviewing you online.
To find the best way to ask patients for reviews, we need to address the reasons people don’t review hospitals in the first place.
So, why might a satisfied patient NOT leave an online review?
- They intended to leave a review, but forgot.
- They would like to leave a review, but don’t set aside the time to go through the motions.
- They went online to leave a review and got distracted or it wasn’t clear where to go to leave a review.
- They don’t want their opinion to be public.
- They are just too busy.
- They were satisfied, but they just don’t like going to the hospital.
- The thought of leaving a review never crossed their mind.
- They don’t feel like their review matters to a business as large as a hospital.
You might be surprised to find that the number of patients a hospital sees doesn’t always coincide with the number of reviews they receive. People have the tendency to see larger organizations such as hospitals as big enough to not need their review.
A good analogy would be visiting a petting zoo with your family, and then going to Disney World. You might have been more impressed with Disney World, but be more likely to leave a review for the small petting zoo that “really needs it.”
Once you understand the reasons that satisfied patients aren’t raving about you online you will have the information you need to create a hospital reputation management strategy that tackles those reasons head on.
Ways to Ask Patients for Reviews
This is where we get down to the request its self. There are several methods you can use and some are more effective and efficient than others. Determining the best ways to ask patients for reviews will depend on how the pros and cons of each method stack up for your healthcare organization.
Here are the best ways to request online reviews for a hospital starting with the more traditional and manual methods and then moving on to more advanced hands-off strategies.
Method 1: Ask Patients for Reviews Verbally
Though this is better than not request a review at all, asking for a review verbally in person tends to be the least effective method.
There are many challenges that come along with this strategy. Not only does it require your staff to always remember to ask each patient, it can make people feel confronted or uncomfortable to be asked for a review face-to-face.
Another issue you may run into is that the verbal review request is up to the discretion of the staff member assigned to the task. So, if a patient is clearly displeased with their visit it would be up to your front-desk staff, or whoever is in charge of asking for reviews face-to-face, to decide where to draw the line. This method also lacks a way to determine the effectiveness of the requests. If there is no way to track who received a request, you won’t know who has already been asked, and who has already left a review.
Additionally, in-person requests don’t help make the review process simpler or faster for the patient. More tangible review request methods provide direction or even a link for patients to help them find your hospital’s online review page easily.
This method is very personal and can be tailored to each individual on the spot. However, for any sizable healthcare business, the challenges far outweigh these benefits.
Method 2: Hand Out Review Request Cards
Review request cards are essentially business cards with a request for an online review on them. Though not the most effective, this strategy is slightly more advantageous than asking for a review verbally. Let’s look at the pros and cons.
Review cards give patients something tangible to remind them. However, review cards are often lost or discarded. Though the review card may have the URL for your business page on Google or a QR code, it still requires a significant amount of effort on the part of your patient to scan the code on their phone or type in the URL. Then there is the added burden on your staff to hand these out and review request cards. You may also consider, many people today are increasingly conscious of unnecessary material waste and this may affect their opinion of your business.
Lastly, there are the challenges of print materials, such as the cost of designing the cards and ordering them. You also need to make sure you order more before you run out. And if something like your logo or phone number changes, you will need new patient review cards.
Review request cards can be a used as an extension of verbal requests. They can also be used as a passive method of asking for reviews if you simply set them out at the front desk for patients to take as they please. A passive method such as this may work well if you already have a ton of great online reviews and your hospital’s reputation is already being effectively managed internally.
Method 3: Email Review Requests
This method is a lot of work for some hospitals. It’s worth noting that implementing text messages requests will avoid the challenges of email, and result in similar benefits.
Many patients may not check their email frequently, so they might not see your emailed review request simply because their inbox is full of other emails they are anticipating. With email, you also run the risk of your requests ending up in a spam folder. This also may require some setup or maintenance on your part, depending on the system you implement.
Email review requests can be automatically sent out to patients after a hospital visit, so it doesn’t rely on your staff. An email is a nice option since you can provide a link to your business on Google which makes it easy for patients to get to your page.
Method 4: Request Reviews With SMS Text Messages
Text messages are an ideal option for hospitals, both large and small.
Some patients may not be able to access a link in a text message because they don’t own smartphones. However, smartphones are quickly becoming more and more common.
As of February 2018, the Pew Research Center reported that 77% of Americans own smartphones. That’s a lot considering just 35% of Americans owned smartphones just 7 years earlier.
SMS text messages are highly visible. In fact, 82% of smartphone owners read every text message they receive. Using text messages to ask for patient reviews shortens response time when compared to email, which means you get more reviews quickly. This method resolves the majority of reasons a happy patient might not otherwise leave an online review. By providing patients with a direct link to leave a Google review or a review on another page like Facebook, you make it fast and easy for patients to leave a review in just seconds.
Asking for reviews through text messages is a low maintenance, reliable, trackable, affordable, and effective option. By implementing a HIPAA compliant text message request system you can get more patient reviews to improve your hospital’s reputation.
No Matter Your Method, The Simple Act of Asking for Feedback Helps Improve Patient Satisfaction
Patients are more likely to leave a review if they know their experience matters to you. When you ask patients for their feedback it shows them that you value their opinion. By asking patients for their opinions you are showing them that you’re actively listening to them to help find areas to improve your patient experience.
Patient Satisfaction is About More Than Online Reviews
Effective hospital reputation management strategies extend well beyond finding ways to improve your online ratings.
Maybe you have had a few patients complain that the wait to be seen by a doctor is too long on Fridays. Or maybe a new staff member is less than friendly. Maybe parking is a huge pain. There are a lot of factors that can play a part in patient satisfaction and they all matter.
Improving online reviews without addressing underlying issues that are causing patient dissatisfaction means you’re covering the problem with a bandage instead of solving it.
Understanding your patients’ experiences means you can make improvements that matter most.
It all comes down to patient experience, but you won’t get the information you’re looking for if you don’t ask the right questions!
Here are some examples of questions to ask about patient satisfaction:
- How long did you wait to be seen by the doctor?
- How satisfied were you with the overall care you received?
- How would you rate the friendliness of the staff?
Once you have determined what information you need, you’ll be ready to start asking your patients how they felt about their visit using short satisfaction surveys.
Collect Feedback Through Patient Satisfaction Surveys
By collecting and analyzing feedback you can improve your overall patient satisfaction which can organically help to get more patient reviews.
Where does getting patient feedback fall in your reputation management strategy?
To get more patient reviews and ensure they are positive, you need to collect patient feedback BEFORE asking for an online review.
Satisfaction survey responses can easily be gathered through text messages. They give you the ability to identify your happiest patients and send them a link to review your business online automatically in just seconds.
At the same time, this method helps your least happy patients. It gives them an opportunity to let you know what went wrong. And it gives you an opportunity to resolve the issue privately.
Using a combination of satisfaction surveys and review requests through a single system means you can gauge patient happiness in specific areas. You can encourage reviews from your most satisfied patients. You can collect additional feedback from dissatisfied patients privately.
Set Up a Process to Respond to Patient Reviews, Good and Bad
To effectively manage hospital reviews, you’ll need to respond to online reviews in a professional and empathetic fashion. The communication needs to go both ways for patients to feel that their feedback is truly valued.
And yes, we are (highly) suggesting that you respond to every single review on every platform.
But this can be time-consuming if you don’t have a system in place for it!
Even if you know the steps you may not have the time to respond, or you may not have a way to be notified when a review is submitted. And if you’re on more than one review platform, let’s say Google, Facebook, ZocDoc, and HealthGrades, it can quickly get overwhelming to keep track of everything, much less respond in a timely manner.
The best solution is to use a hospital-specific reputation management system that will allow you to view and respond to all of your online reviews in one place, so you don’t have to check every review platform individually.
Creating review response templates can help give you a starting point and ensure consistency in your responses, even if you have more than one staff member assigned to this task.
Responding to Positive Patient Reviews
You might think that a 5 star Google review isn’t worth responding to. After all, the reviewer is already happy, so what good does a response do?
If you’re not responding to positive reviews, you’re essentially ignoring a compliment.
When someone goes out of their way to rave about you, it’s crucial to thank them. Not only will a response show that patient that you really appreciate their kind words (or stars) but it will show anyone who views your response that you’re paying attention to your reviews and that they matter to you.
Responding to Negative Patient Reviews
If you’re not replying to negative patient reviews you’re forfeiting your right to do damage control.
It can be challenging to craft a response to a bad online review, but it makes a big difference.
A study from SoftwareAdvice.com revealed that 65% of patients thought that responding to bad patient reviews was at least moderately important.
Negative reviews can range from mildly annoyed to downright livid. No matter the emotion behind a negative review or the validity of the content, it’s important to respond. Don’t take bad patient reviews personally. Unless you already have a solid response protocol in place, don’t reply right away. Try and put yourself in the shoes of the patient and reply with empathetic and caring words.
By responding thoughtfully to negative reviews you can minimize the impact they have on your reputation.
With The Right Strategies, You Can Get More Patient Reviews
The bottom line is: getting more online reviews will increasing your bottom line.
More patients talking about you means more referrals and a greater level of trust from your community. And that means more patients choosing you when it comes time for medical care for themselves and their families. Being strategic when deciding how to ask for patient reviews can lead to happy patients, higher efficiency, and greater hospital profitability.
With an effective review request system, you can improve your average star rating and increase your number of online reviews. A robust and customizable reputation management system built specifically for the hospitals can automatically help you collect private feedback, understand both positive and negative patient experiences, encourage happy patients to leave online reviews, and correct the issues that are leading to dissatisfied patients.
You can rise above the competition if you take the right steps to get more patient reviews and continually improve your hospital reputation.
Want to improve your hospital’s reputation ethically and automatically?