3 Surprising Ways Patients Use Online Medical Reviews of Doctors

Online medical reviews from patients are increasingly important to the success of medical practices. But who posts medical reviews, who uses them, and how do they drive patient decision making? A recent survey on healthcare trends offered compelling answers to these key questions. Here’s a look at three surprising ways patients use online reviews and how you can use this info to benefit your medical practice.


Survey findings


The study of consumers in rural, urban and suburban areas is conducted annually. Over the past three years, there has been a drastic increase in patients that submit online reviews and an increase in consumers that read and rely on them to make decisions.


Here are a few key findings:

  • 84% of survey respondents consult online reviews of physicians
  • 77% check reviews as their first step to selecting a new doctor
  • 60% of patients feel that doctors should respond to poor reviews
  • 69% of patients have left an online review of a healthcare provider

 

Data source: Online medical review study by Software Advice



How do consumers use online physician reviews?


It’s a fact that there are online reviews of your practice, likely on a multitude of sites including Yelp, Healthgrades and other healthcare-specific review aggregators. But what do these reviews do for you and how are consumers using them to make decisions about choosing you as a doctor? Here are some insights from the study.

#1 Potential patients use reviews to evaluate the practice as a whole



Your reviews are important, but so are those on patient experience and other doctors in your practice. One doctor with lesser reviews can drag down the entire practice and non-medical staff also influence reviews. Front counter staff friendliness, ease of scheduling, and how billing issues are dealt with also shape reviews.

#2 Reviews persuade patients to go out of network even with added cost



The survey showed that 47% of people that read reviews would go out of network to see a doctor with better rankings including improved customer experience. With two doctors being equally qualified, one in-network and one out-of-network, positive online reviews can influence patient decision even if that choice means paying a premium for out-of-network care.

#3 Positive reviews can be the deciding factor for potential new patients



The survey showed that 94% of patients, when faced with a choice between similarly qualified doctors, were either moderately likely, very likely, or extremely likely to use positive online reviews as the deciding factor. Also of interest in the survey findings is that reviews that are unreasonably negative or that seem improbable are mostly ignored.


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The influence of online reviews is growing


The year-over-year study has shown continual increases in the percentage of patients posting and reading online reviews of physicians. Their influence will continue to grow and in the increasingly competitive healthcare industry, online reviews can make or break your practice. Assigning a dedicated staffer to curate, respond to, and encourage reviews is key to branding and marketing your practice.


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