Online Reviews

The Importance of Online Reviews for Healthcare Practices


April 13, 2021 For Dentists, For Doctors

Online comments are a critical part of reputation building for healthcare practices. Some 88% of patients consider online reviews when choosing a doctor, so having a solid body of positive online feedback is vital. This is especially true as people rely more on local search and online databases when searching for care. Here’s why online reviews matter and how you can use them to your practice’s advantage.

Why Online Reviews Are Good for Business

Online reviews are great for providing “social proof,” i.e., validation from real people who have had a positive experience at your practice. 76% of people trust online reviews as much as recommendations from friends and family. This number is even higher among older Millennials and Gen X.

But there are plenty of additional reasons why online reviews are so valuable.

  • Local SEO (Search Engine Optimization) Online reviews show up in local searches and on search engine landing pages. The more you have, and the better they are, the higher your practice will rank.
  • Target ideal patients Patients who find you through online reviews are more likely to be a good fit, as they’ve chosen you based on feedback and data.
  • Timely Online reviews give an up-to-date picture of a clinic, its doctors, and current practices – often much more than a website or brochure. (Patients will weigh recent reviews more heavily than older ones.)
  • Strengths and weaknesses Online reviews give you an honest assessment of what you’re doing well and where you can improve.
  • Immediate feedback loop Quick to write and easy to respond to, online reviews can be a valuable mechanism for alerting you to critical issues that need to be addressed right away.
  • Point of comparison Online reviews can show how you compare with other practices. You can also monitor competitors’ reviews to see what they do well and how you can close the gap.

How to Handle Reviews (Good and Bad)

Online reviews give your practice the opportunity to take control of your reputation, so make it a point to do so. Here’s how to use good reviews to your benefit and turn bad ones into a positive experience.

  • The good: 
    • Thank patients. Respond to positive reviews with a warm and personal comment and encourage them to return.
    • Share and repurpose. Use snippets from reviews on social media, your website, signage, or communications such as newsletters.
  • The bad:
    • ​​​​​​​Respond quickly. If you receive a negative review, respond quickly, apologize, and follow up privately to try to resolve the situation. Patients will often revise and update a negative review if a situation is resolved.
    • Stay calm and positive. Sometimes negative feedback is not your fault or relates to something out of your control. Try to stay calm and positive and to explain the situation without sounding contradictory or assigning blame.

Remember to remain HIPAA compliant when responding to reviews. Never share patients’ photos on social media or message patients privately on social media and avoid sharing any personally identifying information. If you need to resolve an issue, contact the patient through appropriate, HIPAA compliant channels.

How to Get More Online Reviews

While we all strive to run our practice in a five-star fashion, not everyone will have a positive experience. Unfortunately, people who have had a poor experience are much more likely to leave a review. To balance out any negative feedback, your practice needs to actively solicit reviews. Here’s how:

  • Make it routine. When wrapping up a consultation or procedure, you can ask the patient politely to leave a review. Some practices include this request as part of an information or welcome pack.
  • Send a text or email. Use your patient management system to send a post-visit follow-up requesting feedback. Keep it simple to encourage participation, and only ask once.
  • Reach a critical mass. The more reviews you have, the easier it is to encourage new ones. The patients who find you through your reviews are also more likely to leave reviews, and you’ll find that your review numbers will start to snowball.

When asking for feedback, make it authentic, timely, and seamless – the easier it is for your patients, the more likely it is that they’ll leave a review.

At Gittleson Zuppas Medical Realty, we know all about the power of positive feedback:  We can help make sure that one of the most critical parts of your practice – your office space, is top-notch. If you’re looking to expand, move or open a new practice and you need help finding the perfect location, get in touch!