Some operators may dismiss online reviews as a random mishmash of disgruntled patients spewing sour grapes when a doctor visit didn’t go the way they wanted or, to the other extreme, meaningless praise heaped on a business by shills. Those operators do so at their own peril, however, as a new survey reveals that online reviews matter a great deal to patients who are about to make healthcare decisions. According to the report from PatientPop, 70% of the 800 patients who took part say online reviews are “crucial” in selecting healthcare providers. A full three-quarters say they’ve looked online to learn more about a healthcare provider, with 57% saying they do so “sometimes or often.” Those who submit negative feedback seem to expect their complaints to initiate dialogue with the practice; when a healthcare facility addresses negative feedback, the rate of patient satisfaction roughly doubles to 99%. That’s a lost opportunity for many, though, as 52% of participants said they had not been contacted by the medical practice they’d opined about. The latter piece of data may be especially valuable to urgent care operators. Again, given the “retail” aspect of the urgent care business it may be wise to equate patient feedback to customer satisfaction. It matters, and it’s within your sphere of influence. An article in the JUCM archive, A Process Approach to Differentiating Your Urgent Care Brand By Ensuring That Patients Leave Satisfied, emphasizes the need to look at customer service systemically in the hope that patients will be likely to post positive reviews.
Online Reviews Matter—a Lot—to Patients, and They Expect You to Listen