Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Top 3 Reasons for Hospitals to Include Online Patient Ratings in their Provider Directory

Most people go online to do research for just about every aspect of their lives, from finding a reputable contractor for home improvements, to which restaurants to eat at or which hotels to stay in while on vacation. We all use the Internet to see what others suggest. Think Yelp or TripAdvisor.

Why let other third party sites be your voice to the customer? Why not have your own voice?

Our research shows that 67% of adults wish they could find more comprehensive information about doctors online and 5 out of 9 patients consider an online review to be important when evaluating a new physician. As reimbursement models evolve patient experience metrics will continue to be an important performance indicator.

Why not take the lead in engaging with patients to make sure they feel confident about the healthcare choices they make? Listen to our webinar recording “Enhance Your Provider Directory with Online Patient Ratings” for a research-based summary of why online patient ratings are so important to make available to prospective patients.

Here are our top three reasons to include online patient ratings in your physician finder or Provider Directory.

#3 Improve Online Visibility of Services 

Search engine optimization (SEO) experts agree that user-generated content, such as reviews, is heavily weighted by search engines. This means reviews are often the first impression a patient will get of a medical provider or hospital when they search online.

Simply put - search engines love online reviews because their users do.

According to Google, they exist to serve up the most useful and relevant information. In a local search, health consumers are often seeking providers and services nearby and are ready to take action. An online search drives nearly 3x as many visitors to hospital sites compared to non-search visitors, and 44% of patients who research hospitals on a mobile device scheduled an appointment.

Naturally, then, search engines like Google reward websites that provide online reviews and other valuable information to empower those decisions. Make sure your hospital and your providers are found at the top of this list when patients are making important healthcare choices.

#2 Increase Referrals and Grow Practices

Hospitals are acquiring medical practices at an increasing rate and concurrently, about 60% of family doctors and pediatricians, 50% of surgeons, and 25% of surgical subspecialists—such as ophthalmologists and ENTs—are employed (Rosenthal, 2014). Increasingly, to assure the financial health of owned practices is to nurture the fiscal well-being of the entire healthcare enterprise.

In days past, the reputation of the doctor was assumed. No one questioned it. Doctors were esteemed members of our community, society, and local culture. If you had an issue, you went to the family doctor. It was an expectation, just like getting married in your mid- to late-20s and having 2.5 children.

One of the biggest changes in the healthcare business is the consumerization of healthcare. Before, healthcare practitioners did not have to think of how the public viewed them, other than internally in their practice or at the hospital with surveys sent out to patients about the care they received. The new reality is that people have more freedom to choose – their plans, doctors and how they spend allocated healthcare and wellness funds. So why not maximize your piece of this consumer healthcare pie?

More than a quarter of survey responders said they would be willing to go “out of network” for a physician based on favorable information from Internet websites and online referrals. Online resources are especially important for elective and specialized healthcare services.

A referral by a primary care physician is important, but consumers are increasingly interested in third-party recommendations available via the Internet. That’s why online patient ratings are so important to a hospital or doctor. Online patient ratings provide an independent “consumer” validation about a provider, services provided and overall experience.

#1 Delight Patients at the First Touchpoint 

Anyone can provide a generic transaction. It requires "intentionality" to deliver a transformative experience.

The number one reason hospitals should incorporate online patient ratings into their provider directories is to create a memorable patient experience. Delighting patients by allowing them to see the comments of other patients is key to them choosing a provider or which hospital to go to. Sometimes it’s the simple feedback like did the patient feel comfortable in the waiting area, did they feel welcomed and safe in the exam room and did the staff and provider show kindness and consideration during the appointment. Did the physician sit down with them and really connect? Did they feel heard and understood? 

Patient satisfaction is not about bending to every patient’s every desire. It is about making a sustained and genuine effort to provide skilled and compassionate care. Providing transformative experiences care is not all about one provider, but it is the sum of every interaction a patient has with the healthcare organization.

Allowing patients to see reviews about the provider and his or her facility is one important way to make a patient feel welcomed and that you sincerely care about their experiences and their opinions. Providing online reviews and the ability for patients to write a review is a way to engage the patient at the beginning of the continuum of care.

Now you know three very important reasons why you should include online patient ratings in your provider directories. By engaging your patients from that first touchpoint, you can strengthen your online visibility; deliver a stream of patients to your participating providers, who are increasingly employees; and deliver the first part of a transformative, memorable experience that will delight patients and strengthen preference for your organization. All the while, you are increasing patient satisfaction scores — a key performance indicator that impacts your organization’s compensation.

Want to learn more? Click here.

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