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    Reviews matter


    Rules of Engagement

    Why respond? According to the Software Advice survey a lack of response to reviews by physicians and their practices is bad practice. Sixty percent of patients surveyed say it’s moderately or very important that doctors respond to online reviews.

    If someone had a positive experience, Rainey says, insert yourself as part of that conversation to reinforce the good feedback.

    “For negative experiences, you want to have a public response but still take that conversation off-line,” he says.

    The public response guides the patient to a privacy-protected conversation offline, but shows a practice’s concern and willingness to be transparent. Sometimes, it’s marketing teams that respond. In the best case scenario, people who are satisfied with the followup will write subsequent, more positive reviews for all to see.

    Rainey points out, however, that responding to every single comment isn’t necessary.

    “What we’ve seen is that when we’re looking at social networking sites, Facebook or Twitter, the patient really expects to be responded to in somewhat of a timely manner — so anywhere between 24 and 48 hours. When you look at the review and rating sites, the patient doesn’t necessarily expect to have a response,” Rainey says.

    While it may be tempting and even desirable, removing comments isn’t part of the inherent transparency of online ratings and reviews.

    “We don’t do that. That’s just welcome to the world of social media. It comes down to how can you influence new reviews and ratings that are being published?” he says.

    Practices might help drive positive reviews by asking patients and handing out cards in the office. Another option is to engage patients with an email campaign, asking them to rate their experiences. Still other ways are to post star ratings and opportunities to review on a practice’s website. Practices can validate feedback before posting it but shouldn’t pick only the positive comments because it diminishes credibility. Reviews and ratings posted on physicians’ websites or profile pages help to drive website to higher positions on Google searches, Rainey says.

    NEXT: Making Improvements

    Lisette Hilton
    Lisette Hilton, president of Words Come Alive, has written about health care, the science and business of medicine, fitness and wellness ...


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