By Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer
[Series Installment] Once upon a time—as all fanciful tales begin—us good common folk of the kingdom never thought to question the reputation or chivalry of noblemen or knights. Nobles had their regal robes, and knights had their armor.
And, in this bygone era in healthcare’s crown estate, legions esteemed their doctors, physicians and surgeons—the much respected ranks of white coat wearers—mainly because, well…just because they were doctors. Their status and social standing was unquestioned and simply assumed by everyone…including the village common-persons.
But that once-upon-a-time era of nobles and knights is gone. And, although the well-deserved Good Sir reputation of doctors is no less appropriate today, it is no longer taken for granted. Ordinary people, once called patients, are now savvy, retail-trained consumers. Informed, aware and opinionated customers now dominate today’s manor houses.
Unfortunately, this is a bit of a surprise to a few providers and practices still living in the “old kingdom.”
Everyone has an opinion…
An important force that distinguishes the former provider-centric system from today’s patient-centric world is what consumer healthcare marketing regards as “the voice of the customer.” Born of the consumerization of healthcare are the online reviews, star ratings and patient satisfaction scores that influence the opinions of fellow consumers.
Surprisingly, some providers (and even a few hospitals) are dismissive of the influence of reviews—the pervasive “word-of-mouth”—in our digital world. Here are some of the reasons that online reviews are important, and connect directly to the essence of doctor and medical marketing:
- Individuals tend to trust the comments of other patients, regardless of accuracy or authority.
- Internet reviews and ratings are a standard expectation of online shoppers.
- Many patients will go out-of-network because of favorable doctor reviews.
- Nearly half of surveyed patients use, and are influenced by, online reviews.
- Negative reviews, including old or out of date comments, can have a long-lasting influence.
- Physician ratings and reviews are magnified by social media such as Facebook and Twitter.
- Reviews influence loyalty when establish patients evaluate their current doctor.
- Some doctors consult online reviews of other practices before making professional referrals.
The day-to-day experience of shopping in the retail world, plus the commonplace and convenience of online purchases, has created a demand for information about doctors and hospitals. And in many cases, a patient’s decision process, and their selection of a provider or a hospital, is strongly influenced by online reviews and ratings.
Physician reviews and ratings have become an inescapable, and vitally important, part of our nation’s healthcare delivery system, and are an essential component of consumer healthcare marketing.
If you would like some professional guidance in sorting out the influences of online reviews in your practice, please contact us today. We’d be glad to provide an independent perspective.
Additional articles in this series are available in our free healthcare marketing reference library, including: Online Patient Reviews: Power, Influence and Muscle to Grow Even Bigger, and Is Your Hospital Brave Enough to Publish Online Physician Reviews?