Endo Mastery

Taking control of online reviews

Boosting online reviews is a vital part of endodontic marketing. Here are some pointers to put more stars into your practice’s online reputation.

DEBRA MILLER

DIRECTOR OF COACHING

Online reviews are a reality, and it is frequent practice now for many patients to check reviews in advance of their first interaction with business, including doctors. When patients see a lot of 5-star reviews, they arrive in your office with a preformed positive mindset. If patients see frequent negative reviews, they are going to be hesitant and doubtful from the start. 

Prompting positive reviews 

The whole paradigm of online reviews is misleading. Review sites promote themselves as ways for the public to get unfiltered and honest information about businesses. However, we all know that dissatisfied people are naturally more motivated and likely to post complaints and critical reviews compared to satisfied people who would post glowing reviews. As a result, online profiles tend to amplify negative feedback more than you actually experience in real life. 

 

For this reason, you must have an online review strategy in your practice to tip the balance closer to reality and in your favor. The most important action that your team can take is to prompt happy patients to leave an online review. That literally means asking happy patients to leave a review and, even more specifically, asking them to give you 5 stars.  

 

With every patient visit, your team should be monitoring how the patient is reacting during their appointment. Note if they are smiling the whole time and if they stay enthusiastic and positive. Listen to things they say, such as the appointment was painless, easier, or faster than they expected. Most patients meet these criteria, and the secret is to ask them to give you a 5-star review while they are in the office:  

 

“We are so glad you enjoyed your visit with the doctor. We would really appreciate if you could take a moment right now to give our practice a 5-star review?” 

 

You can hand the patient a business card with the back of the card printed with the webpage address to post a review online. Common review sites include Yelp, Google and Healthgrades. You can use online tools to create a QR code printed on the card that patients with smartphones can scan with their smartphones. 

 

One key point is that you do not want patients entering reviews using a device that you provide that is connected to your Wi-Fi network. Review sites track IP addresses, and when they receive multiple reviews from the same IP address, they flag these reviews as potential spam. For this reason, you should also NOT provide Wi-Fi network access to patients in your office. Even if they create a review using their own device but it is connected to your network, the review will get flagged.  

 

By prompting the majority of your patients who are happy to leave great reviews, your online profiles will shift so that positive reviews far outnumber any negative reviews.

Responding to negative reviews 

Even the best practice might get some negative reviews. Sometimes those reviews are trivial grievances, or they are about things that you have no control over or responsibility. For example, if their insurance declines coverage, the patient may complain on your profile. However, sometimes things happen in the practice where a patient may feel let down, whether it is justified or not. 

 

Every online reputation consultant will tell you that you must respond on a timely basis to negative reviews. This is true, but it is important to remember that healthcare providers are severely restricted in how they can respond to online comments. HIPAA governs any potential public exposure of protected healthcare information. Whether you are responding to a positive or negative review, you cannot say anything that would reveal protected information, which includes the nature of any treatment the patient received or even to confirm that the patient is a patient.  

 

Suppose a patient leaves a positive review, and you respond with, “It was great to see you! Thanks for your feedback!” In this comment, you have confirmed they are a patient and you have violated HIPAA, which exposes you to potential and significant fines. Likewise, any discussion of the patient’s treatment is completely prohibited.  

 

It is a common misconception that if the patient reveals their own protected health information in a public forum like an online review, then they have waived their right to privacy over that information. This is not true. The only way you can post anything publicly about a patient’s protected information (in a review, online comment, Facebook post or comment, testimonial, etc.) is if the patient has given you signed authorization to use their information.

 

As a rule of thumb, all responses to online comments should be positive and non-specific to any patient. The best way to do this is to pluralize and generalize for all patients. For example, rather than saying “We’re sorry you felt uncomfortable during your recent treatment,” say “We appreciate all comments, and we strive for every patient to have a comfortable experience in our office while providing the best care possible.” 

Effective marketing systems 

Not only can great online reviews pre-inform patients about how great your practice is, but they also give confidence for your referrers to send patients to your practice. How wonderful it is when a referrer can say, “I’m sending you to see Dr. Goerig, who has the highest number of 5-star ratings on Yelp than any other endodontist in our area.” It is also a fantastic value- and relationship-building talking point for your marketing coordinator. 

 

Endo Mastery practice coaches can help you and your team implement a complete marketing system that drives referrals and cases. For more information, give us a call to discuss your goals and priorities.  

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