Patients use online ratings like rate my doctor DrSocial to choose their physicians, much like they use online ratings to find a good restaurant or hotel.
For many physicians, this is disheartening. Surely the practice of medicine does not compare in any way to the service at a hotel or restaurant. But the fact that America uses the Internet to select services and make purchases cannot be denied, and that carries over into healthcare.
Seventy-three percent of consumers conduct research online before buying clothing, footwear, toys, and health and beauty products, according to a study by PricewaterhouseCoopers. “With the ability to shop anywhere at any time with any device, consumers are demanding excellence and consistency at every turn and are challenging retailers and brands to keep up,” the authors of the study write.
An article in JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association states that “patients are increasingly turning to online physician ratings, just as they have sought ratings for other products and services”—and this number is on the rise.
It is important to note that patients who receive referrals from friends and other doctors also use online reviews and Google searches to vet their decision to go with the referral. When a potential patient conducts a search on a physician’s name, if a Google search reveals negative information, no online presence, or just a few reviews, any or all of these could be the determining factor in causing that patient to go to the competition.
A study in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR) confirms that online physician-rating is “rapidly growing” in popularity and “becoming commonplace.”
The JMIR study also found that there are “statistically significant correlations between the value of ratings and physician experience, board certification, education, and malpractice claims, suggesting a positive correlation between online ratings and physician quality.”
This finding only endorses the transparency that is transpiring via the Internet regarding physician reviews, a trend that is building patients’ confidence in online ratings. The ratings matter to patients, so they should matter to physicians.
The Price of Losing One Patient
With the importance of online reputations in mind, how much should physicians be willing to pay to change their online reputations? It’s all relative. How much is the cost of losing just one patient to a competitor?
In his blog article The True Cost of Losing a Customer, Aaron Pedersen speaks to restaurant owners, but the same could be applied to any consumer. Each customer brings with him or her a “customer’s lifetime value” (CLV). One disgruntled customer tells 16 of his or her friends. Consider the CLV of these 16 potential customers. Online reviews reach hundreds of people, so the impact is even greater, Pedersen writes.
Points Group has discovered that some medical practices are spending significant amounts of money on their marketing efforts, while others are cutting costs in order to get by; yet, they all have one thing in common. “They’re losing money because of what’s happening (or not happening) online, some of which they are not even aware [of],” Points Group writes.
“These elements may not have a set cost, but what they do is stop new patients from coming—patients that would lead to new revenue,” Points Group continues. “Fixing these issues can stop patients from ignoring your practice and prevent revenue from going to other practices instead of yours.”
Strong physician performance has and will always be essential to the success of any healthcare organization, but with the advent of value-based purchasing, a positive online reputation translates directly to added revenue, Marketwired, via Yahoo! Finance, writes in an article that announces and endorses MDValuate’s free e-book Guide to Choosing a Physician Reputation Management Solution.
“Adopting a physician reputation management strategy is imperative to maintain[ing] profitability,” the Marketwired article states. “MDValuate’s new e-book offers healthcare organizations valuable advice in choosing a solution.”
MDValuate also offers a reputation management calculator, which can be useful in helping physicians to determine ROI on a reputation management software solution.
Have you considered the cost of failing to manage your online reputation? Visit rate my doctor DrSocial for more info.