Recent studies reveal across all industries, namely health care, that the number one driver of acquiring new customers continues to be a direct result of word of mouth marketing – meaning recommendations from one consumer to another. Doctors and providers in healthcare can see this phenomenon through tracking their patient inflow. In most markets, a high percentage of new patient acquisition will come from friends and family and referrals from other health care providers, which could also fall under word-of-mouth from someone within the referring practice. The force of word of mouth does regularly drive new patients into our waiting rooms. What you may not be aware of however is how much online reviews in particular are growing the influence of word-of-mouth referrals and are already no doubt impacting your digital reputation both as a doctor and a practice in a dramatic way. Even with word of mouth referrals, patients are doing their own homework online in the form of physician online reviews.
There are many examples of word of mouth coinciding with online reviews. A young couple finds out they are pregnant. A senior is diagnosed with cancer. A family is looking for a new asthma specialist or dermatologist for their children. A man is seeking a new primary care physician. In all of these day-to-day situations statistics show a consumer’s very first step is almost always conducting an online search – yielding reviews of the most highly rated providers in that field in a location near them. This is even after being referred via word of mouth. Being that 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations1, it is becoming increasingly clear why what patients say about you online through both physician review sites such as doctor.com and even business review sites such as Yellow Pages. If these are ranking high on your practice or personal name in search, they can make or break your practice when it comes to your new patient acquisition numbers. More than ever consumers are interpreting your physician online reviews as a representation of the quality of care and patient experience you provide. And with 72% of consumers believing that positive reviews allow them to trust a local business more1 – this means a patient is more likely to make an appointment with you over a competitor based on positive ratings online.
Here’s the bottom line: nearly 9 in 10 patients determine the quality of your practice by reading about you online before ever picking up the phone to make an appointment. 1 Do you know what patients are saying about you online? Are you in control of your ratings or physician online reviews?
The landscape of health care is changing and you need an expert to help establish, manage, and protect your online reputation. PractImage offers a solution called RepManager to track your online presence and manage online presence for health care providers just like you. Let us help you improve your practice and personal branding through monitoring, managing, and improving your online presence and building a strong overall online reputation. Contact us today for a free assessment.
Sources: 1Anderson, Myles. “Local Consumer Review Survey 2014 | Online Reputation Survey.” BrightLocal. N.p., 01 July 2014. Web. 19 Oct. 2015.