Because healthcare services are considered essential, competition in the healthcare sector is often an afterthought – or barely considered. But like all businesses, it’s necessary for hospitals to compete with one another if they hope to be the leading healthcare provider in town and grow their bottom line.
As is also true of any business, hospitals must work hard to establish trust in their services, facilities and personnel to set themselves apart. Simply, patient trust is the major currency hospitals need in order to thrive. But how, exactly, do hospitals position themselves as a trusted provider?
In this blog, we discuss the role of online reputation in the success of healthcare services and how online reviews help foster trust within your community.
Importance of Online Reviews in Hospital Reputation Management
Patient trust is driven by public image and reputation. The better the hospital’s reputation, the higher the chances of developing trust. According to a Google study, over 90 percent of patients believe a hospital’s reputation matters more than it being in their insurance network or recommended by another doctor.
The impact of hospital reviews on business in the healthcare industry can never be understated. With sites like Yelp, Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business), Facebook, Healthgrades and Doctor.com offering patients the ability to rate their healthcare providers, hospitals are now seeing the importance of online reviews and starting to pay attention to their brand reputation management strategies.
Given that over 65 percent of patients use review sites fairly regularly, leveraging online reviews goes a long way toward fostering patient trust and placing you as the leading hospital in your locale.
Moreover, most online experiences today begin with search engines. With 25 percent of search results showing user-generated content in the form of review sites and forum content, among others, search engine reputation management helps control what your customers see.
Best Practices for Healthcare Reputation Management
Hospital reviews play a critical role in improving patient trust – and your online reputation. When patients share their experiences online, the extent of the information they share can directly impact your bottom line. With a healthcare reputation management strategy in place, you gain more control over the information spread about you and become better-positioned to drive patient trust.
That said, here are some best practices for hospital reputation management you can implement to improve your online reputation.
Focus on Improving Patient Experience
Competition in the healthcare industry is at an all-time high. There are many hospitals out there just like you, sharing the same credentials and services and catering to the same target audience.
So how do you set yourself apart from the competition? By focusing on improving patient experience. Improving patient experience leads to greater patient confidence, better relationships and a more solid online reputation.
Here are some ways you can accomplish this:
- Minimize waiting times: Implement solid scheduling guidelines to create clear appointment windows and manage patient expectations. If you run into delays, let patients know so they can come in later or at least know how long the wait will be.
- Show you’re committed to safety: People want to know that you’re taking every safety precaution possible. Set up strict health protocols and communicate with your patients to assuage their fears.
- Express concern over patients’ concerns: Be empathetic towards patients. Good customer service entails being attentive to the patient’s worries and offering advice where appropriate.
- Make patients feel more comfortable: Patients aren’t always comfortable in a hospital environment. But you can improve their comfort level early on with simple gestures like greeting them as they come in, showing them where to sit and making conversation.
- Provide a seamless experience: Minimize the amount of paperwork patients have to fill out. If information is already available on forms they submit, it doesn’t make sense to have them fill out a form with the same information.
Collect Reviews and Respond Appropriately
From time to time, patients will proactively leave reviews and share their experiences online. This is especially true for patients belonging to younger age groups in the thick of the digital revolution.
But brand reputation management isn’t just about monitoring reviews online and waiting for patients to leave a review. Given the importance of online reviews to your organization, you have to know the following skills:
- How to ask a customer for a review
- How to thank a customer for a review
- How to respond to a customer review appropriately
How To Ask a Customer for a Review
The simplest and best way to get hospital reviews is to ask patients directly. But many doctors and hospital staff don’t know how to ask a customer for a review or find it uncomfortable to ask in person.
So here are other ways to ask healthcare customers for a review:
- Through your website: Optimize your website with a review section or links to review sites and ask patients to leave a review on your profile.
- Via email: Create an email blast or send patients a personalized email thanking them for dropping by with a request, in the end, to leave a review on your profile on various review sites.
- On social media: Highlight positive reviews through a social media post and add your links to the description while asking your audience to leave a review.
- Asking in-person: Asking patients for a review in person doesn’t have to be awkward. It helps to look out for certain situations where it feels natural to ask patients for a review, such as after patients express satisfaction over the service or after staff members or their attending physician asks about their experience.
How To Thank a Customer for a Review
Knowing how to thank a customer for a review is essential in ensuring that patients and customers feel valued. It’s also a great way to let other people know that you appreciate your patients, which also improves your hospital reputation management strategy.
After patients leave a positive review about their hospital experience, respond immediately by thanking them for the feedback. Make it personal and address them by their name.
How To Respond to a Customer Review
Reviews about your hospital won’t always be positive. In healthcare reputation management, learning how to respond to a customer review can turn any negative experience into a positive one and impact your online reputation for the better. That is because most patients will look at negative reviews to see how you respond to them.
Reputation management consultants from the best online reputation management companies recommend the following ways to respond to negative reviews:
- Offer a genuine apology: Acknowledge the issue and apologize sincerely for what happened. Don’t take it personally, and avoid canned responses.
- Say thank you: Show gratitude for the honest feedback and the opportunity to improve your services.
- Provide explanations: If there is a legitimate reason for what happened, offering an explanation can shed light on why it happened.
- Respond immediately: Don’t take too long to respond because it makes your response appear less genuine. In contrast, responding quickly shows that you value your patients and are willing to take steps to fix the issue.
- Take it offline: If the situation cannot be fixed in a few responses, it would be more beneficial to talk it over offline. Show the reviewer that you’re willing to remedy the situation when they give you a call, send you a direct message or drop by your office.
- Never ask for reviews to be deleted: Cleaning up your online reputation by deleting negative reviews is a terrible idea. Even a mere suggestion may cause patients to become more irate and double down on their negative reviews.
Invest in Reputation Management Services
Reputation management is crucial for hospitals because the healthcare industry thrives on the trust of its patients. Forming a negative online reputation could lead to the erosion of that trust, which could see your hospital go from the leading hospital in town to an industry pariah. This makes brand reputation management for hospitals challenging.
But you can streamline this process by investing in the reputation management services of online reputation management companies. With the help of these companies, you can tap into the wealth of experience of expert reputation management consultants to maintain a positive online standing and get you out of a crisis when you need it.
Rize Reviews, for instance, automates your online reputation management strategies with access to our reputation management tool that helps:
- Collect online reviews
- Showcase reviews on your website
- Respond to negative reviews privately
- Alert you to new reviews left by patients for quick response
In an industry where customer trust is the number one currency, hospitals can’t afford to leave their online reputation management strategies on the wayside. To be the leading hospital in your town, you need robust reputation management strategies to attract more positive reviews, control negative reviews and improve your online standing. While it may take a lot of work, it will all be worth it to see its positive impact on your bottom line.
Rize is your partner in hospital reputation management. Automate your reputation management activities with the help of our reputation management tool so you can spend more time focusing on improving the patient experience inside your hospital. Get in touch with our reputation management experts today.