by Evan Steele, Founder & CEO of rater8
Many practices can put their marketing dollars to better use. I recall a rater8 client once telling me that their marketing budget was $800,000 per year. They spent this money to raise brand awareness so that when a person in their area needed orthopedic care, they were top of mind.
When patients google that practice by name, the very first thing they see is thousands of reviews averaging 4.8 stars! Strong online reputation management reflects marketing dollars spent effectively because patients are encouraged to continue gathering information on the practice and are discouraged from straying to other well-known practices in the area. A weak online image, however, is reflective of squandered marketing dollars. rater8 calls this a “break in the chain” along the patient journey.
Let’s say this practice passes the “online reviews test” and a patient visits its website. Likely the patient will want to research the doctors and select one. First and foremost, a “services” page on the practice website allows patients to find the doctor they need quickly. So, if I’m a patient and need a doctor that can help me with my shoulder injury, I want it to be easy to find all the doctors in the practice that specialize in shoulders. Now that I’m on the website, there is still more investigation to be done before scheduling an appointment. A lot of practices have many providers, and I need to figure out who to choose. Pinnacle Ortho, for example, does a really nice job of making it easy to choose the right provider for a patient’s needs.
On their homepage they provide a list of problem areas. If I click on “Shoulder,” I’m brought to a webpage with more information about conditions and available treatments. Pinnacle Ortho lists all the doctors (with their headshots) that specialize in shoulders, and clicking on a doctor’s picture takes me to the physician’s bio page. It is easy to find the information I need to book an appointment. Websites that leave out bio page links and physician headshots are considered to have “broken the next link in the chain” along the patient journey.
If the practice website makes it hard for me to choose the right provider for my needs, I’m forced to call the practice, navigate a phone tree, speak with somebody at a call center, and request a list of doctors by subspecialty. Only then can I go online and research each physician. At any time during this lengthy process, unfortunately, the practice risks losing me to another practice’s website.
Let’s say the online reviews for the practice look great and it’s easy to find the right specialist. At this point, I as the patient will start perusing the physician’s bio page. The strongest bio pages reaffirm my intention to book an appointment with the doctor by presenting me with verified patient reviews and testimonials. If I see a highlight reel that surfaces happy comments left by patients on sites like Google, Healthgrades, and Vitals, I’ll be more likely to book an appointment. According to The Wall Street Journal, 77% of prospective patients research online reviews before booking their first appointments.
After reading positive patient testimonials on the physician bio page, I would finally feel comfortable enough to call the practice or to schedule a visit online. Not having testimonials and verified reviews is another break in the patient journey and an example of marketing dollars being used inefficiently.
The next step along the patient journey is collecting patient feedback. Post-appointment, patients want to leave feedback quickly and easily. And this was my inspiration for starting rater8. Five years ago, my wife and I were checking into a brand-name hotel in Prague and Federico at the front desk gave us a bad check-in experience. I felt awkward complaining in front of him to the manager, and felt zero motivation to fill out the 60-question survey I received a week later (which didn’t even mention Federico by name).
It dawned on me that customers and patients alike needed a quick and easy way to leave immediate anonymous feedback. Out of that realization, the rater8 patient-feedback module was born. Today, thousands of doctors across the country use rater8’s simple surveys to measure patient sentiment and to improve the patient experience.
Someone once asked me which was more important: practice improvement or reputation management. While both are critical to practice growth, I believe that practice improvement is ultimately more important because if your patients are unhappy, building up online reviews is like putting lipstick on a pig. Happy patients generate word-of-mouth referrals that help grow your practice and overall brand awareness.
Within the rater8 ecosystem, 96% of patients leave positive feedback. It’s on the rater8 Analytics Dashboard where you can filter the data to surface both negative and positive reviews. Using Premier Medical in the example below, it becomes clear when filtering for 1-, 2-, and 3-star reviews that Dr. Eric Johnson sometimes makes patients feel rushed, and front desk staff Natasha Turner can do a better job welcoming patients into the office.
Using the benchmarking report, you can immediately see that Premier Medical has a “Staff Friendliness” problem.
Looking at how patients rank “Staff Friendliness” over time, it’s evident that it’s been improving the past few months.
If you dive deeper into the comments associated with “Staff Friendliness,” it becomes clear what, exactly, are the problems patients are having with the check-in staff.
By measuring specific areas of your practice, you can see improvement over time and provide incentive for staff to continue delighting patients and maintaining top quality care. In addition to coaching employees to improve via negative patient feedback, rater8 clients also share positive feedback with staff. Millennials are motivated by recognition, and staff will work much harder to please patients if they know they are being rated by them.
When the patient journey is a seamless experience, it helps convert prospective patients into practice regulars and powerful word-of-mouth advocates for your practice. Marketing dollars spent on initial brand awareness are ineffective unless combined with the ability for patients to easily evaluate and choose physicians, book appointments, and leave feedback that helps your practice continue to improve. Need help optimizing your patient journey to achieve sustainable practice growth? Click the below link to see how.