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Invest in Online Reviews of Doctors to Fast-Track New Patient Acquisition

When making decisions about their healthcare, patients value doctor ratings and reviews above everything else. Their #1 deciding factor before making an appointment is a physician’s online ratings and reviews. To put it simply, if your healthcare organization has a weak online reputation, you’re losing patients to your competitors. 

The use of online reviews in the patient journey mirrors the traditional consumer experience (CX)—something often attributed to the “Amazon effect.” Amazon has trained people to expect full transparency—i.e., product ratings and reviews—and modern-day patients are no exception to the rule. But, in healthcare, the stakes are much higher than in other industries. People aren’t buying toasters or picking a restaurant: They’re searching for care—on third-party review sites and physician directories or even the doctor finder on your hospital’s website—for themselves or a loved one, which is a deeply personal and often vulnerable experience. Patients want assurance that they’re making the right choice, and they turn to online reviews left by others like them to build confidence before booking an appointment. 

For organizations looking to attract and win over new patients, prioritizing reviews of doctors and a strong online hospital reputation is mission critical to success—both in the short term and long term. 

Why Collecting Patient Reviews of Doctors Is Imperative to Growth

When it comes to how people make decisions about where to get care, a strong online presence, complete with high-quality patient reviews, is more important than ever. On average, patients read 5½ reviews before choosing a doctor. Online reviews are where the patient experience (PX) and consumer experience collide. Patients leave feedback about their experience with your organization and its providers, and, in turn, those in need of care digest the information to decide where to go. 

Online reviews typically hold a mirror to patient experience scores. 77% of consumers say online doctor  reviews accurately reflect their own personal experiences with a provider or organization. You can even use reviews as a window into what your healthcare organization is doing well or where it can improve, leveraging patient feedback in real time to quickly take action and observing trends over time to continually drive PX improvements.

How to Earn Trust and Win Patients with Doctor Reviews

Not all reviews are created equal. Review quality—that is, helpful and from a credible source—is the most important factor for patients looking for information about doctors. Aim to collect high-quality, care-specific reviews that give others a detailed view of what to expect from an appointment and experience with your organization. Poor-quality reviews—for example, those that seem fake or sponsored—would actively discourage 61.2% of patients from booking with a provider. 

Review recency follows at #2. Typically, patients don’t trust reviews older than three months. Without a stream of reviews published regularly across the web, prospective patients will move on to the next provider.  

Now, maybe you’re worried about opening the floodgates. What happens if an unhappy patient leaves a bad review? Having a few low marks isn’t the end of the world—far from it, in fact! Most patients don’t trust profiles with no negative reviews, so the occasional one- or two-star rating actually lends credibility to a provider’s online presence. In an industry where patient trust is critical but not easy to come by, establishing credibility out of the gate is a game-changer to developing lifelong loyalty.  

What Drives Patients to Leave 5-Star Reviews

Outside of receiving high-quality care, patients rank “quality of customer service” (like the demeanor, attentiveness, and helpfulness of staff and practitioners) as the top factor in awarding a 5-star rating. Also key to earning top marks is the cleanliness of facilities and communication (e.g., follow-up appointment reminders, annual checkup reminders). These were even ranked ahead of nurse and doctor bedside manner, which came in at #4.  

Convenience factors are critical: 59% of patients agree that “ease of appointment booking” matters when leaving a 5-star review, while 52% say the same about “ease of patient intake and registration.” The full “patient experience” now extends to pre- and post-visit touchpoints, so making patients’ lives easier during those moments should be a high priority. 

Jump-Start Your Patient Review Strategy Today

Harnessing the power of your online reviews isn’t just the prudent thing to do. With tools like Press Ganey’s Review Publishing, it’s easier than ever to make patient feedback you’re already collecting reach a wider audience. Review Publishing syndicates survey comments as verified patient reviews on high-trafficked sites—like Healthgrades, WebMD, and Vitals. To learn more about this cutting-edge technology and driving a comprehensive reputation strategy at your organization, reach out to a Press Ganey expert here

About the Author

As Director of Press Ganey’s Consumerism Division, Dan is responsible for consulting with our enterprise clients about everything consumerism. Dan spent seven years at Doctor.com, which was acquired by Press Ganey in October 2020. Dan was an integral part of Doctor.com’s success, playing a key role in scaling out the mid-market channel while also running its tradeshow and inside sales teams. Prior to Doctor.com, Dan spent seven years at Yodle, where he also developed and directed its tradeshow teams—one of the highest revenue-producing channels in the company. Web.com acquired Yodle for $342 million in 2016. Dan holds a business economics degree from Penn State University.

Profile Photo of Dan Dougherty