Do you know how important the online reputation of your practice is? Make sure that you’re using the most effective method to solicit online reviews and making use of the systems already in place. It’s not just about using the right method, but asking at the right time, too.
Learn more about best practices for soliciting reviews, when to ask patients for a review, and where you want reviews most.
Hi again, it’s Ryan Miller with Etna Interactive, and we’re going to talk today about medical reputation management. Specifically, the one thing you need to be doing right now to protect yourself online.
Now quick note before we begin, this video is intended for US practices only. For our clients and our friends up in Canada, it’s important to note that right now, the prevailing legal environment is strongly against the idea of using testimonials in advertising. Some have interpreted that to mean needing to stay completely hands-off in the arena of online ratings and reviews, so this advice is not for you.
Now, if you are concerned about your online reputation, you have good reason to be. Specifically, as I look back over the last ten years, I’ve been lecturing all over the place at major medical meetings about the importance of reputation management for doctors—primarily plastic surgeons. And most of the doctors I spoke with just buried their heads in the sand.
Right, I think the knee-jerk reaction is to ignore the problem and the challenge that comes with getting patients to share their experiences online. Others would get angry and insist that only unhappy patients write reviews. And we know today that you can’t bury your head in the sand, and that the majority of reviews are, in fact, positive. And if you look around, well, all of those competitors, they’ve popped their heads right up, they’re staring you in the eye, and they’re using smart tactics like the one I’m about to share with you to get a really fantastic representation of their reputation across the web.
Why does it matter? Well, what we see today is that the data shows that 90% of patients or more are looking at online reviews as one of the first or last steps in influencing their selection of a specific provider.
So, we know that this matters to pretty much everyone. But when we take a deeper dive into the data, the thing that we learn is that it’s not just that you have some reviews it’s specifically that you have recent reviews. 69%, two out of three patients say that they’re really only looking at the last three months when evaluating a particular provider. So, the thing that you need to be doing right now is you need to use text messaging to solicit reviews from your patients. Very, very straightforward. They get an SMS or an MMS message with a link where they can share their experience online.
Now let’s talk about some of the considerations and specifically why we recommend text messaging. So, we offer a text messaging service for our clients; many agencies will. And what we found in studying is that three times more reviews were generated when we used text messaging to solicit rather than, well, an email or a simple verbal ask.
So, text messaging is definitely the far superior way to encourage patients to share their experiences. But there are some technology considerations, so let me walk you through those really quickly.
How do you send out the SMS? Well, if you have a CRM system or practice management software in play in your practice, the first thing to do is to ask: “Can I get the text messages generated out of these systems?” Why this is beneficial is that software, well, they know naturally when you’ve already seen and treated a patient, and we can link to those events to trigger the SMS message to go out. In the event that those capabilities aren’t available on your system, agencies like Etna will be able to offer you subscription software that can get the job done. That software will allow you to manually enter a single person that you want to send that message out to. To bulk import a large group of emails, we recommend on a weekly or bi-weekly cadence, excuse me, not just emails but cell phone numbers and patient IDs as well. And in addition to that, often we can do a direct integration with your practice management software to get all those benefits of the real-time and automated solicitation.
Now we are often asked, when we’re crafting those messages, should I offer some kind of incentive or promotion for people to write their review? The answer is no. First of all, text messaging is enough, it gets the job done. And specifically, in the United States here, the Federal Trade Commission has come out and basically said you cannot offer compensation or incentive for patients for reviews and not disclose it. A whole bunch of practices were fined exactly for that in January of 2022. So don’t do that. It’s a horrible idea, it’s against the law, and in most areas, it’d be considered unethical.
Now, what about the timing of reviews? This is an especially important reputation management consideration for a plastic surgeon or plastic surgery group. This great graphic here from our friends over at La Jolla Cosmetic tells the story that we all know too well. That very often, immediately following patients’ procedures, patients aren’t feeling great, they start nitpicking the results by week two, they’re feeling a little better in the third week, and finally, at week four, they’re feeling super happy and ABC about that result. Now that’s the moment in time where we want to solicit. So, we want to make sure that the system you’re using has the ability to do a delayed send so that you’re asking for the review when we’re pretty confident that the patient is going to be feeling great about their result.
The last thing we get all the time is, well, the question, “Where do I want those reviews?” And specifically, we recommend Google and Facebook. They’re the two that are going to get you the greatest visibility and have the greatest impact on how those reviews can benefit your clinic.
All right, that said let’s just wrap it up really quickly and let me remind you that the thing you need to be doing right now, you need to be using text messaging to ask patients to share through reviews and the ratings on their experience in your clinic. If you have questions about online reputation, we’re here for you any time. Find us on our website, follow us on Facebook or just send us an email, and thanks for tuning in.