All too often, the love-hate attitude about online physician rating sites comes down to a strong desire by doctors to simply ignore them.
After all, doctors are too busy to attend to the largely imperfect and unreliable noise and chatter of patient comments. Even the “positive” reviews are rarely qualified to speak to clinical competency, which patients have little means to assess.
As for the rest of the online static, many doctors say they have zero time to listen to patient chatter--ranging from minor gripes about parking or paperwork to perceptions of an impersonal front desk.
Nevertheless, patient reviews and experiential feedback are not to be ignored. For one thing, it is simply good business to be in touch with the “voice of the customer.” Admittedly, it’s an imperfect system, but it’s part of the doctor-patient communications process, and a means to better understand the needs and wants of patients.
Then there’s the bottom line to consider. The purchase decision of about one-third of patients searching for a health care provider will be influenced—positively or negatively—by online reviews. And many patients would select an out-of-network doctor with better reviews than in-network doctors.
Fortunately, studies routinely find that positive reviews continue to outdistance the negative ones. But a growing number of patients also use online review to evaluate their current doctor, or the doctor they have selected, according to the 2014 Software Advice IndustryView study.“[The] majority (61 percent) use them prior to choosing a doctor. However, a slightly greater percentage of patients in 2014—20 percent, up from 19 percent in 2013—say they use online reviews to evaluate their current doctor.
“Doctors should be aware that both current and new patients may be using reviews to evaluate their performance, and thus having a positive online presence on review sites is a step toward not just attracting patients, but retaining them.”
Where to begin…
There are dozens of online review sites, but the Software Advice study finds that “Yelp is the most popular online review site (27 percent), but ties with HealthGrades for most trusted.”
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