Glad you asked. In the internet era, your online reputation is your reputation.
It use to be that you practiced great medicine and patients came through the office doors. Today, patients have more choice and more tools than ever.
Regardless of whether a patient was referred by another provider or a family member, chances are they’re going to check-up on you online. And if they’re given a few different names, what they see about you can greatly influence their decisions.
It’s your job to ensure that the offline realities of your practice match the online reality these potential patients see. If you’re a great doctor, but a few angry patients post negative reviews and tarnish your online reputation, we can guarantee it will affect your practice.
In 2015, ninety-two percent of consumers read online reviews to determine if a business or medical practice is a good business. That number has been gradually growing over the past several years–76% in 2012, 85% in 2013, and 88% in 2014.
Forty percent of those consumers make a judgment call after reading only a few reviews. If the top two to three reviews are negative, they will be less likely to use the practice in question.
Imagine a patient has been given a few names of providers in the area.
The patient goes and Googles, “Dr. Smith orthopedic surgeon.” The patient is going to see at least four or five different rating or review site profiles for Dr. Smith. If the star ratings are low across the board or say the last two patient reviews were negative on profile the checked, patient is likely to have an unfavorable opinion of the provider or practice.
Now, if that same patient then goes to Google with one of the other names she has, “Dr. Jane Doe orthopedic surgeon”, and she sees favorable reviews across all of her profiles and there are plenty of them, the patient is likely to have a favorable opinion of the provider or practice.
Who do you think she is going to call or make an appointment with online?
Additionally, search engines such as Google give favorable weighting in their search engine results for practices with a large volume of reviews.
Up to about 50 total reviews, Google will increase the positioning of your listing in their search results for searches related to what your practice offers. The more reviews your practice has on its Google My Business profile, the more likely you’ll be to appear on the first pages of a potential patient’s search related to your practice.
Remember, it’s in Google’s best interest to show the best providers to patients and Google still drives the largest percentage of new patients to a practice.
While ranking the “best provider” may be subjective and your opinion of online ratings and review websites low, there’s high return on investment to reputation management.
Plus, they’re not going away.