Online Reputations: Trends, Risks, and Opportunities
Thursday, October 6, 2016
Posted by: Chassity Davis and Tony Edwards, Venel
Based on Venel’s national patient study of 4,236 orthopaedic patients in 2016, nearly 80 percent of patients are utilizing the Internet to search for health care content. Additionally, 25 percent of those patients are visiting rating sites as part of their research in choosing an orthopaedic surgeon. While patients’ usage of these sites has steadily grown, the most significant trend doesn’t lie with patients, but with the sites themselves, as we have learned through their growing popularity.
When these reputation sites first appeared, it was then that many orthopaedists either didn’t know of them or were choosing to ignore the reputation sites and their impact. Initially, these sites were in the business of controlling providers’ reputations and they did well with that through patient-centric terms and conditions, severely limiting the ability for anyone to make even the smallest edit. However, as the traffic to these sites spiked, so did their perceived value and the idea to profit from them.
Hospitals, health systems, and payors have since taken notice and want control over provider reputations, and as a result, these sites have identified opportunities to capitalize. To meet this demand, some rating sites have implemented services to sell any and all data you and your patients provide to systems and payors. With their fundamental product being the information you and your patient provide, they are in a race to offer services to doctors to increase the amount of data they have to sell. This forces providers into a difficult position. Having improved ratings online is important, but at the expense of indirectly delivering the data into the hands of health systems and payors, that surely carries some risk.
As a result, practices have never been, nor will they really ever be, in a position to manage online reputations. Instead, where you have control is in driving online reputations. Refocus your dollars and resources within the four walls of your Practice, where you can lead and grow provider reputations with patient experiences.
1. Create an exceptional patient experience – Design and deliver an experience that is exceptional from start to finish and create Patient Advocates. From the first phone call to the last postsurgical visit, every touch point your staff has with a patient needs to be designed and implemented with the goal of becoming the best part of that patient’s day. As the Practice creates more Patient Advocates, it gives you an opportunity to capture more positive reviews.
2. Leverage positive experiences – Give your patients the access, tools, and resources to share their experience with you and help guide them to leave a positive review for their provider while they are at the Practice.
3. Capture and reconcile negative experiences – There’s value in capturing both positive and negative experiences from appearing elsewhere online. Giving patients the opportunity to share their negative experience offline with the Practice can help eliminate a percentage of negative reviews that may likely appear online later.
Reputation sites are not going away and will continue to grow in numbers and prominence. Having a strategy in place to own and drive your online reputation is crucial.
About the Authors
Chassity Davis and Tony Edwards, senior vice presidents of Venel and co-authors of the book Alignment, provide orthopaedic surgeons across the nation competitive advantages within their markets through strategic marketing solutions supported by Venel’s commitment to research in what influences patient decision-making.