Living in the Information Age means having a world of data at our fingertips. But when it comes to making healthcare decisions, we can have too much of a good thing. The internet is bursting with confusing (and often conflicting) info about healthcare providers. For patients, it can be hard to know what to make of it all – let alone who to trust. Transparency is one key to earning that trust.
Still, physicians often flinch at the idea of putting doctor reviews and ratings online for the world to judge. And for good reason! Anonymous internet reviews are often mean-spirited, misleading, or both. Here’s what the skeptics might not realize: Embracing reviews and star ratings is a win-win if you do it the right way. Taking control of your digital reputation can be good for physicians and patients alike.
Odds are good you’ve checked a restaurant’s reviews on Yelp before deciding where to get dinner, and you’d probably be reluctant to spring for a one-star book or blender when shopping on Amazon. Today’s digital consumers bring the same mindset to searching for a healthcare provider.
Healthcare consumers want to know what other patients have to say – and they definitely pay attention to the number of stars beside each physician’s name. According to a 2017 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), 60% of patients report that online reviews are important when choosing a doctor.
But when patients search for “best doctors” or “doctor reviews,” they often wind up on third-party review sites. Trouble is, those third-party sites have some serious drawbacks. They might have just a handful of reviews for a given doctor, meaning one or two disgruntled reviewers can dramatically skew a physician’s average rating. In fact, the JAMA study authors concluded that commercial review sites don’t contain enough reviews for patients to make accurate conclusions about the quality of care they’d receive from the doctor in question.
And when you leave the ratings to third-party sites, you put your reputation in someone else’s hands. You can’t separate dissatisfaction with parking or billing from concerns about the doctor-patient experience. Because the reviews aren’t verified, you can’t even be sure the patients leaving comments have been treated by the doctor that they’re rating. Managing those reviews in-house is the only way to ensure that you maintain control of the conversation.
There are other practical reasons to include physician ratings and reviews on your own website. Ratings can boost your site higher in internet searches, helping prospective patients find the right doctors within your system.
Most healthcare systems are already collecting information about patients’ healthcare experiences, using tools such as Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS) surveys or Net Promoter Score (NPS). Translating such survey findings into easy-to-understand reviews can provide more accurate info to patients than third-party sites ever could.
Incorporating star ratings and reviews into your own website gives patients the transparency they crave. The result: You stay in charge of your reputation while winning new patients and maintaining their trust long-term.
When you’re in control, those little stars don’t seem so scary after all.