More and more patients are doing their homework online before choosing a medical provider or facility. Star ratings and online reviews have become popular means for consumers to evaluate their possible experience with a healthcare provider.
In a recent national survey of older adults, 43 percent said they had checked provider ratings before selecting a physician. Another survey revealed that over half of patients want access to ratings and reviews collected from health system patient experience surveys.
As patients become more empowered as healthcare consumers, they increasingly turn to online reviews to make informed decisions about their care. By understanding how provider ratings impact their businesses and relationships with patients, healthcare leaders and providers can take steps to strengthen their online reputations and better serve their patient populations.
Here are the three big reasons why provider ratings should matter to your healthcare organization:
1. They influence patients’ decisions about care.
The shift to consumerism in healthcare is compelling patients to realize the purchasing power they have over their healthcare. As consumers shop for healthcare services, they seek out resources, such as online provider ratings and reviews, to help them make better decisions.
The University of Michigan National Poll on Healthy Aging revealed that online ratings carry almost as much weight as recommendations from family and friends.
Consider these statistics:
- 65% of those who had looked up provider ratings within the past year read reviews of a provider they were considering
- 71% would select a doctor with many positive ratings
- 69% would avoid selecting a physician with mostly negative ratings
These findings highlight not only the influence provider ratings have on new patient acquisition but also how important it is to have an excellent online reputation and presence. Just as poor ratings may keep a prospective patient from selecting a provider, an absence of online reviews likely has the same effect.
2. They yield insight into patient experience and satisfaction.
Ensuring a positive patient experience is vital to an organization’s bottom line. Meeting expectations throughout the care journey is paramount to delivering patient-centered care. And from a patient’s perspective, every part of that journey — from scheduling and receiving care to billing and making payments — impacts their experience and satisfaction which is likely to be reflected in provider ratings.
In a healthcare environment that is rapidly shifting to consumerism, it can be tricky to identify consumer expectations. In the aftermath of a pandemic, it will be necessary to rethink the consumer experience. What better way to get a pulse on how patient expectations are evolving and emerging than through online ratings and reviews?
Experiences shared online offer insights that providers can use to improve care delivery. Referring to his study that analyzed online Yelp reviews, Anish Agarwal, MD, noted: “Health systems and clinicians can learn a lot about the communities they treat and how people experience the services they provide by looking to online ratings and reviews.”
Positive or negative feedback can be a valuable tool to implement or improve patient experience and satisfaction strategies. For example, a New England Journal of Medicine Catalyst survey found that 52 percent of healthcare organizations use Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS) surveys, which inform CMS star ratings, to measure and adjust their strategies.
3. They build trust and drive loyalty.
Trust is the ultimate currency in every industry — especially healthcare, and it is inextricably tied to customer experience. Finding a medical provider can be a complicated and stressful process. When searching for a new physician or healthcare facility, patients often turn to what they consider trusted sources of information. This may mean asking friends and family members for recommendations or reading online provider reviews.
As pointed out earlier, patients trust online reviews as much as a recommendation from a friend. In today’s world, the first touchpoint a patient has with a healthcare organization often occurs online.
It is a well-known tenet in digital marketing that online reviews provide social credibility. If other consumers have had a great patient experience, a potential patient will feel more confident about enjoying the same.
For healthcare providers, online customer reviews can be an excellent way to establish trust before they’ve even talked to a patient. Moreover, proactively inviting feedback, responding to negative reviews, and sharing patient satisfaction survey results, brings about transparency that fosters trust and drives loyalty.
Seize the moment!
The rise of consumerism in healthcare leads more providers to consider the full impact of provider ratings, value patient feedback, and define a new patient experience based on a realistic view of consumer expectations. Consumers want to make informed healthcare decisions, and in the wake of COVID-19, they are increasingly motivated by trust, experience, and convenience.
In last month’s CEO Spotlight, I talked about the importance of developing strong financial partnerships to drive trust, loyalty, and endorsement. The patient financial experience is such an integral part of the consumer experience in today’s world that providers cannot afford to ignore this element of the care journey.
Seize the moment, and initiate strategies to leverage online ratings to ensure your patients’ experiences match their expectations.