Online ratings game: To boost PR, many hospitals post their own patient satisfaction info

As online ratings play an increasing role in consumer healthcare decisions, many healthcare organizations are getting into the ratings game by posting real patient feedback on their web sites, according to CNBC.

Many providers share patient satisfaction surveys with the general public instead of relying on popular rankings sites such as Healthgrades, Vitals, or rateMDs, Andy Ibbotson, vice president of National Research Corporation, told CNBC. Those online reviews are important, because 77 percent of consumers begin their search for a healthcare provider online, he says, with 1 in 3 patients choosing another physician after reading negative reviews on the web.

Although online reviews can help boost the image of healthcare organizations, there is a flip side. Healthcare organizations should think carefully before responding to a negative review, wrote attorney Sten-Erik Hoidal, of Fredrikson & Byron PA, in an article for Lexology.

Providers should create and maintain a Google Plus account to promote their projects and accomplishments, Hoidal suggested. Organizations can also maintain a Facebook or LinkedIn page to provide educational information for patients. "Using social media as a platform to highlight your organization's accomplishments, community involvement and areas of expertise will hopefully leave the online public with favorable impressions of your organization while minimizing the impact of the occasional negative review," he wrote.

During this process, providers should keep in mind that what's important to patients might not align with clinicians' ideas of quality of care. For patients, the top measures of healthcare quality revolve around factors such as convenience and the friendliness of staff, while clinicians put more emphasis on clinical outcomes, as Fierce Healthcare previously reported. There also questions about how valuable those online ratings are. One recent study found a correlation between online feedback and care quality metrics, while other research found online ratings do not help patients compare quality or performance.

To learn more:
- read the CNBC article
- check out the article on Lexology