In the internet age many turn to the web for advice from user reviews for everything from what electronics to buy, what restaurants to eat at, where to vacation and more. When choosing a physician, it is no different. And why should it be? Choosing a doctor is arguably more important than the decisions listed above, so people are going to do their homework. In fact, a survey by the software review company, Software Advice, suggests that 77% of physician review site users are using them as a first step in selecting a doctor. Many sites, like Healthgrades.com and RateMDs.com, allow patients to post reviews about their experiences at doctors’ offices.
Many in the healthcare industry question the validity, usefulness and effect of online user reviews. However, considering the trend shows no signs of slowing, medical practices, clinics and hospitals would be unwise to ignore them.
It turns out that online reviews in general, including physician reviews, are popular among many different demographics. The variation comes in how different groups use them.
Millennials and Generation Xers tend to want more transparency in their health care. As a group they are looking for convenience. Being more distrustful of doctors, they will look for physicians that will work with them on their treatment plans as opposed to an authoritative doctor who will simply hand them orders. They want to be highly involved in their own health care decisions. An online review from a member of the younger generation will tend to focus on a physician’s accessibility, relatability and cooperation.
Baby boomers, on the other hand tend to focus on doctor rankings and getting the best care possible. They are also more likely to go out of network to get the care they are looking for.
When looking online reviews in general, research has found that quality of care is ultimately the most important factor, followed by accurate diagnosis and staff friendliness.
The ugly reality is that doctors can loose patients because of a couple of overly negative reviews. There is one common situation that can often lead to a scathing review, and that is when a physician refuses to perform a test or prescribe a medication that is of no benefit to the patient but that the patient insists on. Many times comments like “the doctor is rude” or “this physician didn’t listen to me” come directly from disagreements in courses of action and treatment plans. The internet is well known as a place for people to vent frustrations of all kinds. Of course, no physician should feel pressured to perform tests or prescribe medications that are inappropriate to avoid negative reviews.
On the bright side, most people that use online reviews to make purchasing decisions of all kinds understand that the most negative reviews – as well as purely glowing ones – should probably be ignored. Kind of how the top and bottom scores in Olympic gymnastics competitions are disregarded.
The truth is that most people, unless they have had a highly negative or positive experience, are unlikely to take the time to get online and write about it. However, asking for your patients to do just that is likely to work in your favor. Asking a patient to provide feedback is more likely to result in a positive review. Offering some sort of incentive is a good way to make this happen. Although you may be tipping the scales a bit, do not hesitate to ask a particularly satisfied patient to consider writing a review about their experience at your practice.
ProMD Practice Management is happy to help with your billing assessment needs so you can maximize profits and increase patient satisfaction. To learn more about how ProMD can make your practice run like a well-oiled machine, call 888-622-7498 or fill out our online form to request a billing assessment.