By now, most orthopedic surgeons are familiar with the concept of reputation management. Physician review sites are very prominent in search results, and negative reviews can really stand out. Most orthopedic surgeons seek out reputation management services when they have a few negative reviews that they fear may affect their ability to attract patients from online searches.
However, there is also a case to be made for building up your online reviews even if you don’t have any overly negative reviews online. This concept is called reputation development. Reed Mollins, co-founder and CEO of our reputation marketing partner Doctor.com, joined us for a podcast episode to explain how reputation development has impacted practices in a positive way.
Why Reputation Development Is Important
Orthopedic surgeons often don’t consider their online review scores when there aren’t any negative reviews or comments to address. However, it’s not uncommon to search for a surgeon and only be able to find a few reviews here and there. Even if those few reviews are positive, they won’t be as impactful if competitors have several reviews.
Review Volume Lends Credibility
Think about when you go to purchase something on Amazon.com. Are you more likely to purchase the item with three 5-star ratings, or the item with 1,000+ ratings that average out to 4.5 stars? Volume is as important as the overall rating when it comes to your reputation.
Patients Consult Reviews Before Booking Appointments
If you think online reviews don’t hold much weight in patients’ decision-making processes, think again. In the podcast episode, Reed mentioned that according to their data, 80% of patients are looking at online reviews before they make an appointment, even if they’ve received a referral from a primary care doctor. With so many patients consulting online reviews, you can’t just ignore your online reputation and expect to be able to compete with other orthopedic surgeons online.
How to Develop Your Online Reputation
It’s important to build up not only your overall scores online, but also to build up the number of reviews you have and maintain a steady flow of patient reviews. There are a number of ways that you can go about building up online reviews, so it all depends on what works best for your practice and your budget.
If You Have a Smaller Budget…
Practices with smaller marketing budgets may simply ask patients to post reviews online, or email links to their online review profiles after the appointment.
While this is certainly more effective than doing nothing, it can take time to build up a healthy volume of reviews this way. When patients are busy, they don’t have the time to fill out surveys on multiple websites, so it’s harder to get your patients to commit to posting reviews. Often, the patients who are most motivated to fill out online surveys on their own are the ones who are unhappy, which doesn’t help your online scores.
If you do have the budget, we strongly recommend investing in your online reputation.
If You Have a Larger Budget…
There are several companies out there that offer reputation marketing services to help practices collect reviews from patients. Some services email or text patients surveys after an office visit, and the survey answers are automatically posted to a number of relevant review sites. Other services, like our partners at Doctor.com, provide practices with a solution to administer surveys to patients via a tablet or laptop during the office visit.
When patients can fill out a survey in your office, they are more likely to go ahead and do it. This means that you can build up reviews much more quickly than with other methods. Knowing this, we feel an in-office review collection system is worth the investment, especially considering the majority of patients do look online before booking an appointment.
However, it’s important to remember that collecting reviews is just one part of reputation development.
Reputation Development Beyond Review Collection
As we discussed in Chapter 7, there are a number of factors that influence patients’ opinions of your practice. Collecting reviews is important, but you also have to make an effort to ensure your patients are happy. Otherwise, your reviews aren’t likely to be stellar.
Focus on Patient Interactions
Focusing on providing great care and outcomes is something that every orthopedic surgeon already does. While that is a very critical component of patient satisfaction, it is not the only thing that patients consider when reviewing your practice. Patients care not only about the treatment they receive, but how you treat them.
What we mean by that is that patients care about the interactions they have with you and your staff as much as they care about the treatment process and outcomes. If your bedside manner is lacking, or your office staff is rude, that often reflects in the reviews you receive.
Pay Attention to Repeated Complaints
Sure, everyone has bad days. However, if you are noticing a pattern in your online reviews, like people complaining about rude front desk workers or the way you handle certain processes, it’s important to do you can to address those issues. Your reviews won’t improve if you continue to do the same thing.
There may be certain aspects of care that are out of your control, but you can control how you and your staff interact with patients. If you aren’t sure how your staff is interacting with your patients, you can implement HIPAA-compliant call tracking and call recording to get a sense of how your staff is doing.
Develop Your Reputation to Stand Out
Remember, orthopedic patients are often patients who are dealing with chronic pain or an injury, and they just want to get better so they can go about their lives. The right treatment is a key part of that, but your patients also want to be treated with compassion. There are many great orthopedic surgeons out there, but not every office treats patients with empathy and compassion. That is how you develop a great reputation for yourself and stand out from the pack.