In addition to guest posting on the UpCity blog, Abra Marketing is featured as one of the Top Healthcare Digital Marketing Agencies in the United States. Check out their profile here.
As the owner of a healthcare marketing agency, I’ve spent many years helping clients manage online reviews. In this article I’m going to tell you the most important thing you need to know about using review sites to your favor.
Reputation Management Didn’t Begin with the Internet
Nearly 30 years ago when I worked in the marketing department at St. John’s Mercy Medical Center in St. Louis, part of our work included reviewing the results of patient satisfaction surveys. We quickly realized that patients rarely complained about an actual problem with a procedure. Most complaints boiled down to “someone didn’t treat me nicely.”
As we knew back then, the people taking the time to complete the surveys and communicate their dissatisfaction were only a fraction of those with a similar issue. It’s no secret that people are much more likely to share a complaint than a good experience. This insight prompted a program from our marketing director that included regular presentations to departments on the critical importance of treating people well as part of their care.
Do Your Patients Know How Much You Care?
Many doctors and medical professionals have spent so much of their life perfecting their medical expertise (they understandably believe this needs to be the focus of their attention), that they’ve neglected interpersonal skills and empathy. It was often an eye-opening experience for some doctors when they left our presentations understanding that “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
As obvious as it may seem that bedside manner could be a mission-critical part of patient satisfaction, poor bedside manner is nevertheless pervasive. Healthcare clients need to understand that reputation management should be less focused on managing online reviews and more focused on building a culture that helps everyone in the practice understand their critical role in treating patients well and providing a great experience.
How to Use Review Websites
When it comes to managing reviews on sites like Yelp, Google, Facebook, and Healthgrades, many people are focused only on trying to acquire positive reviews. While positive reviews are hugely important—people who have a good experience are less likely to take the time to write a review, so it’s good to have an effort in place to encourage that—think of reviews as a thermometer. If we take someone’s temperature and we don’t like what we see, we don’t try to game the system. Sure there are tricks we could do to change the readout (put the thermometer in ice, for example), but that doesn’t change the feedback we got: this person has a fever.
Review sites give you feedback. Listen to them! Don’t try to game them.
Reputation Management Begins in Your Practice
A great example of a practice doing reputation management right is Paradise Medical Group in Paradise, California (side note: in May they were able to re-open their Paradise office following the Camp Fire in November 2018). Quite simply, PMG has a culture of treating people well, starting with the office staff, and continuing through to every provider.
As PMG’s operations manager, Lorretta Sarmento, reminds her staff, “Our patients are the reason our doors are open. No matter how bad a day you are having, the patient is having a worse day. That’s why they are here.” She also had this to add about their providers, “They truly care. They are genuinely in it for the health care, to take care of that person.”
This personal care shines through their marketing communications as well as through the feedback left by their patients. Their outstanding review rating and consistent positive engagement on social media are testament to the power of empathetic care and great bedside manner when it comes to reputation management. Their patients have a natural interest in sharing what’s going on with this beloved asset to their community’s health.
Start your reputation management program in your practice. Begin by recognizing the critical importance of the entire patient experience. Hear what your patients are telling you. Create an entire culture in your practice around simply being nice to start, and improving from there so that the core of great health care is enhanced by a complete outstanding personal experience.
With that, you will not only have a great reputation management program, but the heart of a some great marketing as well!