There’s a common misconception about online hospital reputation management.
Some think hospital reputation management begins and ends with garnering as many positive online reviews as possible.
While that’s indeed a component of reputation management (and an indicator of the high level of care offered at a facility), it’s only a start. What matters more than the number of online reviews a hospital has is the content within them and what officials do with that information. Ultimately, actionable feedback has a direct impact on patient experience – to the core of any online review. What’s more, it’s critical for a hospital to have mechanisms in place to solicit and respond to patient feedback – both good and bad.
Managing online reviews, however, is challenging. Patient-posted reviews happen independently and sporadically. While there’s no way to control what’s said in a review, there are some hospital reputation management tips that can turn even a negative critique into a positive improvement in patient care.
Why is Online Reputation Management Important for Hospitals?
Healthcare reputation management is critically important. It’s estimated that more than 80% of patients will read and evaluate online reviews before selecting a healthcare provider; because so many people rely so heavily on reviews before making a decision, online reputation can (and often is) the deciding factor when choosing a healthcare provider.
When thinking about hospital reputation management, a few questions should be front of mind:
Did the patient leave feedback or a review?
Was their review positive or negative?
If it was positive, why? What made their experience so great?
If it was negative, what were they displeased with?
Regardless of the nature of the review, the final question you should be left with is how will you take the provided information and use it to improve your facility?
Tips & Tricks to Expertly Manage Your Hospital’s Online Reputation
While there is no possible way to control when one comes in or what it says, there are ways to be proactive in fostering and responding appropriately to online reviews.
The most impactful hospital reputation management tips for online reviews include:
Claim all online listings
Update listings with as much info as possible
Actively monitor and reply to reviews
Build a modern, responsive, and user-friendly website
Get involved in social media
Show off your expertise
1. Claim (and Actively Manage) All Online Listings
Online reviews come from a variety of sources. They’re found directly on Google and Bing as well as review and listing websites such as Yelp, ZocDoc, and Healthgrades, for instance
When getting started with online reputation management, make note of the platforms your patients are actively using as well as any up-and-coming platforms that they’re likely to use in the future.
Some popular review and listing sites include:
Gaining access to and control of each of these platforms helps ensure the information in each listing is correct, that you have full visibility of what your patients are saying, and that you’re actively engaged with your online communities.
2. Update Your Listings With as Much Info as Possible
After claiming each of the above-mentioned listings, the next step is the update them with as much information as possible. This step is crucial because it’s your opportunity to dictate and control the messaging that potential patients see well before they walk in the door.
Some additional tips for completing these profiles include:
Make your organization’s bio unique - Don’t just copy and paste your bio from one platform to another. Instead, take the time to write a unique bio for each platform – even nominal tweaks to verbiage is enough.
Write for a person, not a boardroom - When writing your bio, don’t be overly technical or overuse industry jargon. Remember, it’s not a boardroom full of c-suite executives that will be reading this, it’s a prospective patient that’s looking for the best care available..
Include up-to-date pictures of the facility and providers - Show people what they can expect to see when they show up at your facility. Who will they be interacting with? What can they expect waiting when they walk in the doors?
3. Encourage Everyone to Leave a Review
Once each online listing and review profile is set up, it’s time to begin encouraging people to leave reviews (note that you want to encourage people to provide feedback and reviews, not incentivize people to leave positive reviews as that goes against the Terms of Service of many websites).
A great place to start with this is by reaching out to past patients via email or text message (if you have permission to contact them for marketing purposes, that is). Ask them to rate their experience on a scale of 1 - 5.
From the respondents, create a separate list of the users who have submitted a score of 4 or 5 and send them a follow-up response inviting them to leave a public review online.
Pro tip: We recommend starting with reviews on Google due to its popularity and near-ubiquitous adoption as a place to leave and read reviews. To make this process easier for the patients, include a brief step-by-step guide for those who are less tech-savvy.
For patients who rate their experience as anything under a 4, probe further and attempt to understand what made their experience so poor. From there, offer a sincere apology and assure them that their feedback will be used to better future experiences.
4. Actively Monitor and Reply to Online Reviews
Once online reviews start coming in, pay attention to what users are saying. Designate one (or two for larger organizations) person from your organization to actively monitor and respond to online reviews and feedback.
If a user leaves a positive review or feedback, thank them and let them know that you’re happy that they had a positive experience.
Politely apologize to those who leave a negative review and ask to connect with them privately for additional candid feedback offline if possible.
Acknowledging these negative comments and patient concerns publically (via Google or any other platform) shows everyone you’re striving to improve and make the situation better when things happen to go wrong.
When dealing with negative reviews online, it can sometimes be easy to become defensive; perhaps the person who left the review is being overly critical, or perhaps they misinterpreted the situation which resulted in their poor experience.
It’s important to not become overly defensive, but instead, remain professional and make the reviewer feel heard and validated.
5. Build a Modern, Responsive, and User-Friendly Website
The first interaction many users have with a brand or organization (including hospitals) is with its website.
To build trust with prospective patients, it’s imperative to have a functional, modern website that’s easy to navigate and find in Google search. A website that’s slow to load, unintuitive to navigate, or nearly impossible to find on Google may dissuade would-be patients from visiting your facility entirely.
6. Get Involved in Social Media
As important as it is to claim and monitor all of the large review sites and platforms, it’s equally - if not more - important to have a strong social media presence. Determine which social platforms make the most sense for your organization, set up profiles, and leverage them as valuable tools to interact with prospective patients.
Just like with the review websites and platforms, you’ll need to update your social platforms to include as much relevant information as possible, such as:
Not only can social media accounts show up in organic search results, but they can be a direct line of communication for your patients to provide both positive and negative feedback, as well as act as an avenue for your organization to communicate en masse with your followers.
7. Show Off Your Expertise
In addition to actively monitoring and responding to the feedback that you receive online, creating content is a great way to improve your digital presence and online perception.
Create videos, blogs, and podcasts, discuss the specialties that your facility is known for, feature provider bios, and show the world what you know and what you can do. Website traffic may not be a primary concern for this traffic, but you won’t be focused on building traffic - you’re creating content to build authority and trust.
Another great way to showcase clinical expertise is through email marketing. Partnering with a company that can showcase clinical innovations and present clinicians and facilities in a positive light to other practitioners and facilities can be a great way to foster visibility and engagement.
Online reputation management for healthcare providers and facilities can seem overwhelming - there are so many different avenues that feedback comes from. What’s more, public perception can be swayed by the seemingly most mundane comment. It is not, however, a task that’s impossible to overcome.
Is there more that can be done to manage a hospital’s online reputation? The answer is an undeniable yes. Are the above tips a good start, though? Also an undeniable yes.
By starting with the above tips, you’re setting yourself up for success and to be miles ahead of the competition.