Best Practices to Improve and Grow Your Patient Reviews
Word of mouth has always been a critical tool in capturing new patients, but in the digital age, online reviews are king. Research shows that 91% of people regularly or occasionally read online reviews, and 84% of people trust online reviews as much as they do their friends.
The quality of reviews isn’t the only consideration; it’s also the quantity of reviews. People expect to see at least 40 online reviews before they believe its average star rating. This number is up from 2017, when people wanted to see at least 34 reviews, suggesting that expectations are on the rise.
As a result, your practice needs to create and maintain a process that encourages patients to leave positive reviews. But how? Check out these strategies to assist with improving and growing your patient reviews faster.
Capture more reviews through innovative communication
Automating processes around asking for reviews is a simple way to incorporate transparency in healthcare and stay in front of patients and capture more reviews. After an appointment, send an automated email that asks if the patient will consider giving your practice a review and highlight why it’s important.
Timing plays an important role in your success of capturing reviews, so consider using a technology-based system that sends the request after the visit is complete.
A patient engagement system, for example, allows you to build a stronger practice and nurture patient relationships at critical touch points throughout the patient journey. This type of solution considers the patient’s preferred communication style when sending messages. For example, a patient might prefer to receive text messages over speaking with a live person.
Additionally, you can stay connected to patients by delivering specific messages at specific points in time, such as when a patient’s account is overdue. An automated system can trigger an email or text that reminds patients about personalized and flexible payment options and allows them to set up plans directly through their device.
Create experiences that make asking for reviews easier
Happy customers are more likely to tell their friends and family about your services, and they are also more receptive to leaving positive reviews. But a large part of creating happy customers is delivering more engaging experiences that will increase patient satisfaction.
One of the largest pain points around healthcare is affordability. An increasing number of patients are paying more of their health bill due to the rise in high-deductible insurance plans. Forty-seven percent of those who were commercially insured in 2018 were enrolled in a high-deductible insurance plan, and that number continues to grow
One way to mitigate the stress around affordability of care and create more positive experiences is through patient financing. Many practices offer patient financing but administer the programs in-house, which can be costly and result in slow receivables and bad debt.
Consider working with a partner that provides patient financing and allows you to sell receivables upfront. This type of program allows people to get access to the care they need most without the financial worry — and it helps your practice improve cash flow.
A financing program that is built around the patient experience can help you quickly grow positive reviews. For example, many patients prefer digital communication. ClearGage provides a digitally enabled financing program that allows you to send text messages or emails to patients with the balance owed and the option of setting up personalized payment plans directly from their mobile device. These “frictionless” experiences enable patients to feel better about your practice and encourage them to tell friends and family members about their positive experiences.
Build positive experiences with improved digital tools
The way that patients think about medical practices and how they pay for services is changing. In the past, insurance companies paid most of the patient’s bill; but since people are now paying an increasing portion of their healthcare costs, they are treating medical practices like service providers and the importance of patient engagement in healthcare is higher than ever. And today’s service providers are offering more services than ever, through hyper-connected experiences, on-demand purchasing and simplified experiences.
The use of digital payments in a variety of business sectors is growing. During 2016, there were approximately 22 million digital transactions daily, but that number has rapidly grown to 100 million a day.
Patients want payment options that make their lives easier, and digital payments provide an easier solution. A simplified and flexible payment platform enables patients to quickly pay bills and set up payment plans.
For example, when a patient visits your practice, you can talk about the amount owed and send an invoice via text message or email. After reviewing the message, the patient can pay the bill from the convenience of their mobile device or opt to set up a payment plan for larger balances.
This seamless experience primes patients to be more receptive to leaving online reviews. When a patient comments about how easy the system is to use, it’s the perfect time to follow up by asking for a review to help other patients learn about the practice. Additionally, digital payment tools promote improved financial stability for the practice through more on-time payments, increased practice growth and the ability to give patients 24/7 access to payment options.
Use patient estimation tools to reduce frustration
Patients are delinquent on medical bills for a variety of reasons, including the amount owed being more than expected, confusion about the cost of the bill and simply not having enough money to cover the balance. Regardless of the reason, most patients want practices to do a better job talking with them about the cost of care and how much they owe.
Most patients (76%) surveyed said that it’s important to discuss the cost of care with their practice, yet 21% reported that they receive some, little or no such information during their visit. As a result, many bills go unpaid, and customers feel frustrated with their medical practices — which doesn’t create a good environment for collecting positive online reviews.
For example, imagine that a patient receives a bill in the mail. The bill is much higher than expected, and the patient doesn’t understand why the insurance company didn’t pay more or questions the bill’s accuracy. So instead of getting paid, the bill goes delinquent as it lingers on the patient’s kitchen countertop.
Prevent this situation by having an upfront discussion about the cost of care with your patient. This requires the right tools, such as estimation technology that supports staff and provides peace of mind that estimates are accurate. During that initial conversation, if the patient can’t afford the amount owed, you can have that discussion prior to the visit and provide the patient resources to help them pay their bill.
For example, you might call the patient prior to the visit and explain exactly what their insurance company will pay and the patient’s financial responsibility. The patient then receives a bill via text message or email and sets up a payment plan if needed. If the patient has questions or concerns about the amount owed, your staff member is able to discuss those concerns prior to the patient receiving services. This creates greater visibility and a more positive experience.
After the visit, when you send a request to leave the practice a review, the patient will feel more receptive and will have a positive experience to share.
Selectively identify patients for reviews
One of the simplest ways to increase practice reviews is proactively identifying patients who are willing to leave them. For example, a patient might visit your office and comment on how you are the only practice to tell them how much is owed prior to the visit.
At this critical moment in time, staff can explain how important reviews are in helping other people know about your practice and ask if they would be willing to share their story by leaving a review online. Another example is a patient who thanks your practice for the ability to set up a customized payment plan. At this point, you can discuss the opportunity to leave a review and how important reviews are in helping other people get access to care.
These types of personal reach-outs are highly effective in encouraging people to share their experiences.
Develop a Long Term Strategy
Increasing the number of reviews about your practice doesn’t happen overnight, but with consistent action, you can spread the word about your practice, ask for reviews and help people share their stories about their experiences.
The reality is that most people won’t leave online reviews, but if you continue to work these strategies and solicit reviews from a variety of angles, you will build patient trust, generate positive word of mouth and differentiate your practice — all of which will promote growth into the future.