Make the most of positive online reviews

Despite physicians' fears that unhappy patients will use online review sites to damage their reputations, a recent study suggests the reviews provide doctors more help than harm, American Medical News reports.

According to researchers from the University of Maryland and the University of Minnesota, online reviews tend to be biased in two ways that favor physicians:

  • Doctors who are rated usually have strong offline patient satisfaction scores
  • Most review authors write about positive experiences

Report co-author Jeffrey McCullough, assistant professor in the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota, told American Medical News that the most significant thing physicians should know about the research is that online rating sites "are not a venue where disgruntled patients are complaining."

To the contrary, he said, "Those rated online are those who are preferred [by patients] in offline ratings."

To leverage this phenomenon even further, practice management blogger Mary Pat Whaley recommends that practices go as far as to provide patients with step-by-step instructions for submitting reviews to Google, Yelp, Angie's List, Facebook, or any other physician evaluation website.

Don't ask patients to place comments on all these places, but choose one location at a time, Whaley suggests. Importantly, she writes: "Don't fear negative comments. They will happen because no one is perfect. What will set you apart from others is your ability to answer concerns and resolve issues in a real way."

To learn more:
- read the article from American Medical News
- check out Whaley's post in Manage My Practice