Long gone are the days of patients choosing a healthcare provider by skimming through a list offered by their insurance company. As plan networks grow and patients get smarter, they may start there — but they make their final decision based on what they find through online reviews.

A recent survey found that 72 percent of patients use online reviews and ratings as their first step in choosing medical care, so a solid digital presence is imperative. But how do you get started, especially if you’re a small practice without much IT experience? Follow these tips and best practices for improving your web presence (in a good way.)

online reviews

Update your healthcare directory listings today

Comb through online directories and make sure your information is up to date. Include physician-finder sites, like Healthgrades, Vitals, WebMD Physician Finder, ZocDoc, as well as local directories like Yelp and Google. (We use Yext to help manage profiles across all of these platforms – you can check the health of your directory listings here.)

While you’re searching, take a look at what people are already saying about your practice, and take it to heart— even if it’s inaccurate. Especially online — for better or worse — perception is reality. Check out our tips for combating negative online reviews here.

Make sure your website reflects your quality of care

If you haven’t already, create a killer website and social media pages. Just like your office is designed to make patients feel comfortable, your site should inspire that same level of comfort and trust.

It should look upscale and professional, outline your background and training, detail your specialties, and offer patient benefits such as a payment portal, online appointment scheduling, secure communication, and content relevant to your patient’s most pressing questions.

While online directories and online reviews are important, your own site helps you cut through the clutter and position your practice as authoritative and best in class.

In the social media sphere, be sure to create profiles on LinkedIn and Doximity, along with the obvious
Facebook page that you update regularly with content your patients care about — not a bunch of self-promotional updates.

Get your staff in the ratings-and-reviews mindset

Let your entire staff know that you’re working diligently to increase your presence online and gather more reviews, and remind them often.

You can be the greatest surgeon in the area with the best-looking office, but if your front desk staff is rude to a customer or your wait times are increasingly long, the web will know about it. Customers are two to three times more likely to complain about a negative experience than rave about a great one.

Start asking your patients for online reviews

It doesn’t have to be a blatant or pushy “please leave us a 5-star review,” but there are numerous subtle ways to motivate them. Include your website and a request for a review on your appointment cards.

Embed a one-click star rating function in email communication. There’s nothing rude or pushy about conversationally reminding your patients that their reviews help other people like them find the right healthcare provider. As long as you don’t pressure or offer an inappropriate incentive, you’re not overstepping.

Distribute your good reviews

Once reviews start coming in, promote them across your various properties, from printing them out and putting them up on your waiting room walls to posting reviews on your Facebook page with a designed template. It’s an easy way to generate additional content that helps potential patients make a decision on whether or not your practice is the right fit.

People respond to social proof, even when it comes to seeing reviews and wanting to play along. You’ll find that some of your patients will enjoy the opportunity to have their kind words featured.

Reviews are just one element of the full digital marketing strategy needed to boost your practice’s revenue and bring in more new patients. Want to establish smart goals and a roadmap to get you there? Let’s talk.