Healthcare Reviews: A Complete Guide

Dhiraj Nallapaneni

8 min read Last Updated Mar 2, 2020

Healthcare reviews have redefined the way patients choose healthcare providers. Just a couple of decades ago, most patients relied on word-of-mouth to find a new doctor. But those days are over. 

The rise of the Internet and the smartphone have changed everything. Nowadays, patients start their search with Google. Studies show that 5% of all Google searches are health-related — a stunning amount when you consider the number of Google searches. One of the very first things that they’ll see is a doctor’s online reviews, which makes reviews one of the biggest factors determining whether your practice gets chosen over the competition. 

Let’s talk about how your practice can start winning in the game of online reviews and attract new patients. 

Healthcare Review Stats 

Here are a few stats proving the importance of reviews for healthcare providers. 

  • 70% of patients call online reviews crucial in selecting a healthcare provider. 
  • 59.9% of patients have selected a doctor because of positive reviews. Meanwhile, 60.8% of patients say they’ve avoided doctors because of negative reviews. 
  • 70% of patients think it’s important for practices to respond to online reviews. 

Why do Healthcare Reviews Matter to Healthcare Providers?

Remember, the healthcare system can often look scary to a patient — especially one who’s already concerned about their overall well-being. Chances are that they’ve heard horror stories like a missed diagnosis or a ridiculous overcharge. That’s why it’s important that your practice displays social proof in the form of patient reviews. 

When five hundred of your happy patients leave glowing reviews, it helps to lessen your patients’ fears.  That’s why reviews have quickly become one of the most valued online resources for patients seeking the best care.

Healthcare Reviews and Getting Your Practice Discovered

Today, the search for a doctor begins online, and healthcare reviews are a big part of ranking high in relevant search results. According to Moz, reviews are the 3rd-biggest factor determining your review ranking.  

Why? Healthcare reviews show up on page 1 of search results because they are full of fresh, unique content that search engines love. Practices with more reviews and higher ratings on a variety of sites have a big advantage when it comes to search ranking. 

Some of you might have spent years running successful practices without online reviews. But times are changing. According to Google, “near me” searches have increased 350% in the last ten years. Without reviews, it’s going to be very hard for your practice to show up in these searches. As time goes on, it seems like more and more patients will be choosing practices this way.

What does a good reputation management strategy look like? We’ll go over that in just a bit. But first, let’s talk about something that’s on the mind of every healthcare provider- HIPAA-compliance. 

Staying HIPAA-Compliant 

Every healthcare practice wants to make sure that it’s properly protecting patient data. So let’s get this out of the way: requesting and sharing reviews are in no way a violation of HIPAA. We’ve worked with thousands of successful healthcare practices to both collect and manage reviews without running afoul of HIPAA. It’s not wrong to ask a patient for feedback. Once a review is posted publicly, it’s not a violation to share it on social media or your website. 

However, there is one area where practices need to be vigilant about maintaining patient privacy: responding to reviews. We’ll go into more detail about how to properly respond to reviews later in the article. 

Start Collecting Patient Reviews

Remember, reviews are a great way to build trust with your potential patients. The problem is that patients often don’t think about leaving reviews of healthcare practices. After all, since payment is handled by the insurance company, it may not feel like a transactional relationship, like a restaurant. To start collecting patient reviews, simply send a text message to your patient with a simple message like this: “Thanks for visiting (practice name). Please leave us feedback by clicking the link.” 

We recommend leaving a direct link to a review site like Google. That way, the process is quick and easy for your patients. All they have to do is click the link and leave a review. 

Respond to Patient Reviews 

There’s a couple of reasons why you should respond to patient reviews. First off, it helps your practice’s visibility. Google has confirmed that responding to patient reviews will help your practice rank higher in search results. 

Responding to reviews is also a great way to deal with negative patient feedback. Most of the time, a 1-star review is just a patient raising their hand and asking for your help with an issue. By responding quickly and taking the conversation offline, there’s a good chance you can convince the patient to edit or delete their original review. 

Before you start responding to reviews, keep HIPAA-compliance in mind. Do not identify the reviewer as a patient. Something like “Thanks, hope to see you again soon,” could be considered a breach of privacy. 

Instead, make sure that your responses are deliberately vague and do not refer the reviewer as a patient. A response such as “We strive to make all of our patients happy”, will not be considered a violation of HIPAA. 

Use Patient Reviews as Social Proof 

Again, reviews are an effective tool for reducing the fears of your patients. So make sure that they’re prominently displayed wherever your prospective patients might be looking. We recommend sharing your 5-star reviews on platforms like Facebook and Twitter to highlight the opinions of your most satisfied patients. 

You can also share social proof by placing a review widget on your website. This way, visitors will be able to see the opinions of your happiest patients right away — helping them understand what kind of patient experience they can expect from you. 

Improving Patient Experience with Reviews 

Reviews are a great way to get feedback on what’s working with your patient experience. Patients, even when they’re perfectly happy with their providers, can often be frustrated with things like billing, wait times, and scheduling. Patients will often talk about some areas where they would like to see some improvement in their review text. 

Of course, it can be tough to determine which one of your patients has legitimate complaints and which one of your patients just loves complaining. Luckily, there is a more scientific approach to getting insights from reviews. BirdEye offers Natural Language Processing software (NLP) that crawls through your reviews and finds categories that your patients are mentioning.  This can help you identify the areas where you can improve patient experience while cutting out the noise. 

To Sum It Up… 

Online reviews are the first impression patients get of your practice. It’s not only important to pay attention to what people are saying about your services online. In order to build the trust and credibility required to get new patients, you also need to regularly generate new reviews, interact with patient feedback, and leverage great testimonials for marketing purposes.

The Top 5 Healthcare Review Sites 

You might be wondering what websites you need to pay attention to. Here are some of the biggest healthcare review sites. 

  • Google 

Right now, Google is the world’s biggest review site. Click here to read our full guide on Google reviews

  • Facebook 

Facebook is not only a great place to engage with your patients, but also the 2nd-biggest review site in the world. Click here to read our full guide on Facebook reviews. 

  • Healthgrades 

Healthgrades is a healthcare-specific site that features reviews for doctors and dentists. Currently, the site features more than 7 million reviews from real patients. 

  • Vitals 

Another industry-specific site that you should pay attention to is Vitals. The site features more than 1 million profiles from healthcare providers and 9 million reviews from patients. 

  • Yelp 

Though Yelp isn’t quite what it used to be in the review ecosystem, the site still has 37 million monthly active users. Click here to read our guide on Yelp reviews

How BirdEye Can Help with Healthcare Reviews 

You don’t need to sit down at the end of the day and manually send a review request to every single patient who visited your practice. BirdEye integrates with most healthcare practice management software. This allows healthcare practices to automatically send review requests after a patient visit. But that’s not all. You can monitor and respond to reviews on over 150 sites on the BirdEye dashboard. You can also automatically share your 5-star reviews on social media and your website.