Reviews Are The New Word Of Mouth — And Healthcare Orgs Need A Better Review Generation Strategy

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In healthcare, online reviews are increasing in both volume and importance: We've seen a 132% increase in total number of reviews from beginning of pandemic*, and 60% of consumers say that they have higher digital expectations — for reviews and other experiences — than before.

Why? In part because people were trained by digital-first — or digital-only — experiences during the pandemic to turn online first, as well as to expect more from healthcare in the digital realm. They are searching for and evaluating reviews before making a healthcare decision.

As a result, healthcare organizations need a better review management strategy — today. With this goal in mind, there are three things to think about:

  1. Do you know what people are saying about you? If not, you need to start monitoring your reviews.
  2. Once you know what people are saying, how about responding to those reviews? We've seen a 78% increase* in health systems responding to reviews from 2019 to 2022, signaling that organizations are finally taking review management seriously.
  3. Finally, the only way you can truly influence how an organization or a person is reviewed is to generate reviews so that you can increase the star ratings on individual provider profiles online.

Today, we're going to dive into step three: generating reviews.

Why is generating reviews for healthcare important?

Let's unpack why review generation is so important in healthcare.

First, you can drive greater search discovery and clicks when your providers are ranked higher online — and the way to get that higher ranking is to ask for the review. In fact, when asked, 70% of people will respond to your request and leave a review.

But how do you get started with review generation? Consider the following strategies:

1. Start your strategy with the most heavily-searched-for providers in your organization — or those where you're running a lot of marketing campaigns. If your healthcare organization is focusing heavily on one or two specific service lines, and your marketing is following suit, you can assume that people will be influenced by that marketing and will be searching in higher numbers for those providers. You will want to put your best foot forward to ensure your providers have the highest ratings possible and the best chance at showing up in search.

2. Focus on providers or specialties with the lowest average ratings. Many organizations know that there are certain providers, provider groups, or specialties that have lower ratings online. The easiest way to increase those star ratings is simply to prioritize asking for new reviews in these specialties.

Additionally, turn your attention to providers who can drive a more lasting lifetime value to your system. It pays to think about the long-term impact of your digital presence for specific provider types who can drive long-term revenue for your health system. This is usually an opportunity to focus on asking for reviews in specialties that either drive long-term health visits (e.g., obstetrics through pediatrics) or high-reimbursement procedures (e.g., transplants).

3. Once you've identified your focus area(s), identify the timing to send your reviews. Generally, you'll want to ask for your review as early as possible – within 24 hours of the visit. What's more, there are a lot of misconceptions around survey fatigue — and even if you are sending first party review requests, we're seeing that it won't harm those responses (it's actually improving review responses for both).

4. Consider how you want to load patient data into a review generation platform: do you want to do it manually or automate it? At Yext, we've seen all of our clients opt for the automated option — but automation takes time, so some of them have started with a manual upload of patient email and/or mobile phone data. The most ideal set-up is to automate your review generation.

Whether your IT team wants to build into a platform like Yext to request reviews directly from your EMR, or whether you want someone else to build it, it doesn't matter. You can always get started with a regular email / mobile phone upload while the team is building the automated workflow. The important thing is to start!

Measuring your success: Don’t forget analytics

Once you've started collecting the reviews, consider what metrics and reports you will use to measure success.

At Yext, we're seeing success in a few different ways:

  • Measure success by monitoring average star ratings. We're seeing requested reviews rate providers between 4.8-5 stars. If you have a provider who is rated anywhere lower, you should see those ratings increase!
  • Start reviewing success over time. Because you are already monitoring your reviews, take a timeframe view of your pre-generated average star ratings for your providers. Then, compare that with your post-generated average star ratings. This will help you determine the success of your generation campaign.
  • Review trends over time. You should also be able to see sentiment over time so that you can track how sentiment for providers has changed after you started to ask people proactively for reviews.

Today, there are more places than ever to leave a review for anything, including healthcare. This means it's all the more important to have a strategy to manage reviews online that you already have — while also taking a proactive approach to generating reviews to stay ahead of the population's sentiment of your providers. As the healthcare industry continues to become more competitive and as more non-HC organizations continue to force consumerism expectations on healthcare, your reputation management strategy should become the crux of your digital strategy.

*Internal Yext Search data, 2022

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