By Kathy Roy Gaughran
Senior Marketing Strategist
The painful thing about lost business opportunity is that you often don’t know that it’s lost. It’s revenue that never happened. Here’s a sorry-scenario that we discover all too frequently:
- A word-of-mouth (WoM) referral passes from a patient to a prospective patient
- The prospective patient looks for your practice online only to find “unhappy” reviews
- The WoM endorsement is offset by one or more “bad review” site ratings
- Your competition’s phone rings…
- The empowered consumer has taken their business elsewhere
Your name, practice, hospital and/or professional affiliations have more online listings and ratings than you realize. Sites such as Vitals, Yelp, RateMDs, Healthgrades, ConsumerReports and many others are well established. (The following graphic from PwC Health Research Institute slices the field into six primary categories. Although they provide 18 example sites, they quickly note that the “figure does not include all sources of healthcare ratings and reviews.”
Despite the overabundance of healthcare review and rating sites, it’s a vital marketing concern to see what each has to say and to use the various sites to protect and extend the professional reputation that visitors find online. A recent study by PwC reports:
- “While nearly half (48 percent) of consumers said they have read health-related reviews, only one-third has used reviews to make decisions on where to get care. (The single largest source for information was Consumer Reports, identified by 43 percent of respondents who have read reviews.)
Quick note: Patients and prospective patients are “empowered” about making personal healthcare decisions, and health-related reviews are being considered with increased frequency. Although only one-third used reviews to make a final decision, in our experience, such sites are frequently a starting point, negative or unflattering reviews influence individuals to search further, and reviews do carry influence.
In fact, among those who have read healthcare reviews, 68 percent said they have used the information to select a doctor, hospital and to a lesser extent, a health plan, pharmacy and drug or medical device.
- “No single trusted source has emerged in the health industry, creating an enormous market opportunity. Organizations such as the California Health Care Foundation and the Leapfrog Group are attempting to close the gap with more user-friendly data sites. Big-box retailers are beginning to apply their consumer expertise to better market health-related products and services.
- “Through internal surveys and observations, healthcare companies found that consumers care the most about topics such as the physician-patient relationship, understanding what to do after a clinic or hospital visit, and how to obtain more helpful service from their health plan.”
Healthcare organizations are, PwC concludes, “increasingly operating in a world in which the voice of the consumer impacts the bottom line, and where customer experience is now a matter of dollars and cents. Customer feedback has become a determining factor…[and] ratings connect consumers’ experience to quality, and quality connects to financial performance, market share and reputation.”
The PwC report, Scoring Healthcare, is available here. And you’ll find related information in our previous posts, Physician Ratings & Reviews: Doctors Distrust Them and Fight, Flight or Listen: 3 Ways to Deal with Physician Reviews & Negative Patient Comments.
Senior Marketing Strategist Kathy Roy Gaughran has helped over 4,000 clients throughout North America achieve their growth goals. An award-winning strategic marketing planner, Kathy is an accomplished writer and speaker, frequently presenting to national, local and state professional associations. She can be reached at 800-656-0907.