If you’re a savvy practice owner, then I don’t need to tell you that online reviews are essential to your clinic’s reputation—and ultimately, its success. 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. If your business is in that boat, it’s hard not to wonder what you’re doing wrong—and what you can do to fix it.

The fact is, this can happen to any practice that doesn’t focus on patient engagement or the patient experience—even if that practice’s patients seem happy. So, why do other practices seem to collect online reviews at such an astounding rate? I’ll let you in on a secret: practices with a lot of online reviews aren’t necessarily churning out more satisfied patients than you are. They simply know how to get their happiest patients to leave reviews. And if they’re working smarter, not harder, then they’re using actionable data to inform—and amplify—those efforts. Now, I’ll let you in on a second, even juicier secret: there’s an easy, one-step solution that’ll help your practice simultaneously increase patient engagement, improve patient experience, and get more patients singing your praises online.

Get over satisfaction surveys.

It’s an all-too-common story: a clinic wants to get an idea of how happy patients are with the treatment and service they are receiving. So, the practice starts distributing patient satisfaction surveys. That’s all well and good, and patient satisfaction surveys can certainly produce some relevant data. But, there’s one problem: patient satisfaction only tells you part of the story. A satisfied patient doesn’t necessarily make a loyal one, and at the end of the day, loyal patients are the ones who will happily write glowing reviews, refer friends and family, and return to your practice for future services. In other words, loyal patients are a rich source of consistent revenue.

Mitigate sample bias.

Additionally, patient satisfaction surveys only gauge the satisfaction of a small portion of patients, and that often leads to biased results. For example, this study from 2016 found that:

  • the response rate for outpatient orthopedic patients is consistently low, and
  • a patient’s likeliness to respond correlated significantly with that patient’s age, sex, insurance type, and area of residence.

Thus, we can infer that satisfaction survey responses often reflect the opinions of a very narrow segment of patients. Additionally, this study found that the fewer responses a practice received, the higher the practice’s satisfaction scores. The same study also found that providers with the least-satisfied patients often had the most inflated satisfaction scores. And all of that makes it tough to not only draw meaningful insights from survey results, but also capitalize on the data—to generate more patient reviews, for example.

Capitalize on loyalty.

So, if satisfaction surveys can’t reliably identify loyal patients, what can? Well, at WebPT, we’re big proponents of Net Promoter Score® (NPS®) tracking. That’s because NPS captures actionable data using a simple, research-backed formula that involves:

  • one question (“How likely are you to recommend us to your friends and family?”),
  • one score (0-10), and
  • three segments (“Promoters,” “Passives,” and “Detractors”).

Once you’ve placed patients into these segments, you can create action items focused on boosting patient retention, sparking word-of-mouth marketing, and expanding evangelism. For example, your promoters (those who scored 9 or 10) are your most loyal patients. These folks already think highly of you, and there’s a good chance they are passing those good vibes on to those in their personal networks. So, you can confidently approach them about leaving positive online reviews. And if you’re using an intelligent PRM software like WebPT Reach, you can even streamline the “ask” by deploying automated online review request emails to all of your promoters. Talk about easy-peasy.

On the other hand, feedback from your detractors (those who score 0 to 6)—and even your passives—can help you pinpoint areas in need of improvement. This data is exceptionally valuable because it not only gives you insight into how you can improve as a provider, but also serves as a roadmap for creating a better experience for every patient—which, in the long run, can help you generate even more positive online reviews. That’s the kind of ROI you just won’t get from satisfaction surveys alone.

Focus on accuracy.

You can’t put a price on pure, unadulterated feedback. It’s the key that unlocks your practice’s hidden potential. But, the process of obtaining raw, unfiltered customer opinions isn’t always straightforward. And believe it or not, where patients complete loyalty surveys influences your ability to collect accurate, unbiased data. In fact, according to this study, patients who rate satisfaction onsite often give much higher ratings than those patients who complete surveys at home.

Survey patients early and often.

The same study also found that this trend likely stems from a social desirability pressure. (In other words, your patients want you to like them.) However, as anyone who’s on social media can attest, folks don’t hold back when they’re behind the barrier of a screen. After all, it’s much easier to give an honest critique of someone when that person isn’t standing right in front of you. So, while it may be tempting to distribute surveys in the clinic in order to increase your completion rate, remember that the quality of the responses is just as—if not more—important than the quantity. That means allowing patients to complete their NPS surveys at home on their own time.

Additionally, be sure to establish a consistent cadence for collecting NPS responses. After all, if you only survey your patients at discharge, you’re getting a very narrow sample of data from patients who were happy enough with the care they received to make it all the way to the end of their care plans. Furthermore, if you’re not getting feedback from patients early on in the care process, you have no way of knowing whether they are in danger of churning out—and why. This represents yet another reason to adopt a comprehensive PRM platform like WebPT Reach, which enables you to automatically email NPS questionnaires at appropriate intervals, analyze NPS data in a meaningful way, and reach out to your biggest promoters—all within the same system.

Soliciting patient reviews requires a little legwork, but it doesn’t have to be like pulling teeth—especially if you’ve got the right tools to get the job done. How does your practice generate online buzz? Tell us about your efforts in the comment section below.