I’ll let you in on a little secret: digital ads shouldn’t be the end all, be all of marketing your outpatient practice. Don’t get me wrong—digital ads are important. But when it comes to driving new patients through your front door, online reviews are your best friend. That’s because online reviews are essentially the modern equivalent to word-of-mouth, which many would argue is the most effective type of marketing. And as we mention in this post on how to get patients to leave online reviews, “If your practice doesn’t have a plethora of positive online reviews—or worse, you have a plethora of negative reviews—then you could have a tough time attracting new patients.” Why? Read on to find out:

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Patients trust reviews.

The prospect of finding the right rehab therapist can be a little daunting—especially for someone who has never been treated by a PT, OT, or SLP before. That’s why many folks turn to the Internet—and specifically, online review sites—to get the 411 on local providers. Patients want to know that other people like them have had good experiences with a particular provider before they entrust that provider with their health.

But in an increasingly competitive market, having one or two good reviews won’t cut it. According to the marketing gurus at BrightLocal, “Consumers read an average of 10 online reviews before feeling able to trust a local business.” Furthermore, “40% of consumers only take into account reviews written within the past 2 weeks—up from 18% last year.” That means you need a steady supply of fresh, positive reviews.

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Patients read your reviews—and your responses.

According to BrightLocal, “89% of consumers read businesses' responses to reviews.” That’s right: patients aren’t just interested in what reviewers say. They also want to know what you have to say in response—particularly when it comes to negative reviews.

In fact, if you handle negativity gracefully, those reviews can ultimately be a good thing! Depending on the circumstances, naysayers may provide you an opportunity to show potential patients (1) how committed you are to the patient experience, (2) that you value patient feedback, and (3) what you did to rectify the issues reported by others. So, always respond to reviews. And in the case of a negative review, make sure you take action right away.

Reviews can improve your other marketing efforts.

The value of reviews and testimonials extends beyond review sites. If you really want to boost your marketing efforts, consider incorporating that patient feedback into other marketing materials (e.g., ads, your practice website, emails, etc.). Drawing attention to reviews and testimonials not only gives you more credibility, but also shows potential patients that you care about feedback.

Don’t forget to obtain written permission.

That said, when you come across a particularly stellar patient review (one you’ll surely want to show off), be sure to get the patient’s written consent before posting it somewhere else. Not only is this a legal best practice, but it’ll also demonstrate your concern for protecting your patients’ private information.

You can use them to identify trends.

In addition to attracting new patients, online reviews can help you cultivate a better experience for your current ones. By tracking reviews, you can identify common trends—both positive and negative—which can then inform your decision-making. For example, if your online reviews frequently praise your skill in treating low back pain, you can capitalize on that through your other marketing efforts (e.g., quoting these reviews on your website or social media pages).

On the flipside, if you see one or more reviewers voicing the same concerns, it gives you an opportunity to make any necessary improvements, thus ensuring the best possible patient experience for all future patients.

Turbocharge your review collection game.

Of course, to leverage your reviews, you have to get them in the first place. To do so, you must (1) foster loyalty among current patients, and (2) leverage that loyalty by encouraging those patients to sing your praises publicly (i.e., online). Here’s how:

  • Ask! Most patients will be willing to leave a review if you ask them. Just be sure to approach patients who respond positively to satisfaction questionnaires or Net Promoter Score® (NPS®) surveys.
  • Make is easy. Most patients aren’t going to go out of their way to leave a review, so when you send follow-up communications (especially emails), consider including a very clear call-to-action to leave a review.
  • Make it fun. Offer a reward for people who leave you a review or give you a testimonial. (Just remember to adhere to the Anti-Kickback Statute, which you could learn about here.)

That said, amassing a healthy collection of positive reviews requires a consistent effort, and that can take precious time away from treating patients. That’s where a patient relationship management (PRM) software like WebPT Reach can be your secret weapon. Not only does Reach track patient loyalty, but it can also help you use that information to build out custom email marketing campaigns and target happy patients to tap for reviews.

So, if generating buzz through online patient reviews isn’t a cornerstone of your marketing strategy, then you’re not getting your message out to the people who need it. But, if you hone in on the patient experience—and tap the right patients for reviews—then you’ll be generating new business in no time.

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