The Benefits of Healthcare Reputation Management

Reviews play an important role the patient journey, impacting every decision people make when choosing care.

Carrie Liken

By Carrie Liken

Mar 12, 2024

6 min
The Benefits of Healthcare Reputation Management

More than ever, consumers are turning to the internet for information about your healthcare organization. Online, patients are reading – and leaving – reviews on everything from your facilities to your providers.

Approximately 90% of patients read reviews to evaluate providers, and 69% of patients will not even consider a healthcare provider with less than a 4.0 average star rating. The message for marketers is clear: after all the time you've spent optimizing every channel in the patient journey, you simply can't afford to neglect your reviews.

Drawing on 20 years of experience helping healthcare organizations navigate an increasingly digital world, we're sharing everything we know about the basics of online reputation management for healthcare. This is the first installment of a five-part series – including four blogs and an actionable checklist for healthcare marketers – on using reviews to boost your digital presence, improve discoverability, and build trust in your brand.

To kick us off, let's start with the urgency. Why should healthcare organizations invest in reputation management right now? Keep reading to find out.

Coming up next:

Today's healthcare marketers need to understand the role of reviews in the digital patient journey. Patients expect your organization to read, respond to, and take action based on their feedback.

Even if you don't know what's being said about you online, the patients reading these reviews do. Because of this, you need a healthcare reputation management strategy.

What is healthcare reputation management?

Healthcare reputation management is the effort to improve the online reputation of a healthcare organization or provider. It involves monitoring, responding to, and analyzing first- and third-party reviews from patients and consumers.

Healthcare reputation management requires marketers to manage multiple digital channels. This includes the reviews patients leave on your organization's Google Business Profile listings (as well as your individual providers' Google reviews). It also includes other third-party listings like WebMD, Docspot, and Apple Business Connect and social media platforms like Facebook, as well as first-party patient feedback surveys.

Why you need an online healthcare reputation management strategy

Reviews are a huge part of the patient journey — impacting every decision people make when choosing care. At this point, if you are not managing your online reviews, you're at high risk of being left behind as patients develop higher expectations for healthcare services overall.

For years, consumers have been trained by sites like Amazon to search for a product online and then evaluate that product via its star ratings and the positive and negative reviews left by consumers. Today, search engines and other websites have made it possible to do the same thing for medical practices, healthcare providers, and facilities.

Now, consumers and patients have the same expectations of their healthcare search experience as they do their product search experience. And this can be a great thing for your organization: nearly 80% of highly digital patients are most likely to stay with their provider (and they're 20% more likely than those who aren't interacting with you digitally). You need to make sure you are managing your reviews because the patients who leave them may be your most loyal.

Any time you ask for someone to rate and review you and your services, the feedback you receive gives you a snapshot into the experience and impressions that individual has of your organization. Collectively, this information is very important because it can help you improve patient experiences in the clinical setting. It can also help you improve experiences digitally as well as in pre- and post-clinical settings.

To break those down further, a healthcare reputation management strategy allows you to:

1. Provide a better patient experience

When you listen to what people are saying about you and your providers online, you can collect information. Then, you can focus on making small, incremental changes to provide a better patient experience. The insights you gain from what patients and consumers are saying about you are valuable because you can use them to improve overall patient satisfaction. For example, if you notice several reviews mentioning issues with your online appointment booking tool, you can investigate and optimize that experience.

Online reputation management also helps you report on patient experiences to your internal stakeholders. Written reviews are qualitative and subjective, just like patient experiences themselves. This data can be used to improve your services, which then improves the patients' experiences going forward, increasing satisfaction.

And on a macro-level, marketers can report to internal stakeholders about performance and how the organization is seen externally. Your brand equity isn't just in how well someone recognizes your brand name as an institution. It's also how people feel about you. Your executive teams want to know how people feel about the care they provide (and so do your providers and your administrators).

2. Measure and manage your reputation

There are more places than ever where consumers and patients can leave reviews about your facilities, your organization, and your providers. Managing your reputation across review platforms is easier when you've consolidated all your reviews into one platform. This also helps you take a proactive approach (rather than a fully reactive approach) to review management and response. To do this, reputation management software is usually necessary.

Once you have one platform for all your review management needs, you can filter and analyze patient feedback. Group reviews by provider, facility, and even positive and negative comments. Then, you can take action where necessary, and respond to reviews quickly.

Once your reviews are consolidated into one place, it's especially important that you respond to negative feedback. More than half of consumers expect you to respond to their review. (In fact, your review response is so important that we've explored the strategy in-depth in the next article in this series.)

3. Improve your search engine rankings

When you manage your reputation online (especially your third-party reviews), you should start to see improvements in how you rank in search. Google prioritizes results with high reviews and stars, which then leads to further influencing decisions patients make when they are selecting a provider.

And when you respond to reviews, you send a signal to Google that can help improve your search engine rank. Additionally, Yext customers that respond to at least 50% of their reviews are rated .35 stars higher than organizations that don't — which again boosts their discoverability in search. The higher you can rank in search results when a patient or consumer searches for you, the more likely you are to gain the click to your website and/or the patient appointment.

Search engines (including Google) also use local justifications like reviews to determine your rank in local searches. Having a positive online reputation helps you rank when patients search with qualitative keywords, like "best pediatrician near me" or "pediatrician with easy parking."

What’s next?

Online reviews help patients choose healthcare options that they trust. A great reputation management strategy can help you drive patient acquisition and retention, improve patient experiences, and increase the effectiveness of your marketing efforts.

Of course, building a reputation management strategy isn't so easy. But it isn't so hard, either. That's why our next blog dives into the basics of healthcare reputation management. We explain the differences between first- and third-party reviews, how to monitor and respond to both, and ways you can use your online reputation to build trust with new patients.

Next up: How to Create a Healthcare Reputation Management Strategy

If you're looking to get started with reputation management, planning out a sensible, scalable strategy is priority number one. We'll outline how to do that in this blog.

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