In today’s world, gone are the days when you could simply put out a sign showing that you had opened your medical practice and were taking new patients. With the advent of the Internet, more and more people are turning to online research before picking up the phone to schedule an appointment with a doctor.

Online reputation — that is, what people are saying about your medical practice on the internet — is irrefutably one of the most important aspects of any marketing strategy, yet it’s one area in which many fall short.

Why Are Patient Reviews Important?

Every day, people are taking to the web to share the experiences they had with a doctor’s office, coffee shop, day care center, plumber, etc. You name the business, there are consumers talking about it somewhere online.

According to the Pew Foundation, the majority of consumers conduct online research before making a purchase choice or using a service. Perhaps even more important to note, 2011 Nielsen Global Online Survey found that while about 76% of Internet users turn to friends and family for recommendations, about 48% indicate trusting online reviews and recommendations. That can include reviews on local listing websites as well as social media mentions (think Facebook and Twitter).

Speaking of social media — the advent of Google+ and the shift to Google+ Local pages makes it much easier for patients to write reviews and share them on their own Google+ pages. Changes in Google in the past year has lead to business reviews from Google+ Local pages displaying next to and blended within search results. This new placement strategy makes it even more important to have positive online reviews, so that when people are conducting routine research about potential new doctors in your area, your information will be prominently and positively displayed on that first page of search results.

Getting Reviews From Patients to Build Your 5 Star Online Reputation

When it comes to reputation marketing, the key is to be proactive. You can’t leave reviews to luck, just hoping that patients who enjoy your services will go to Google or Yelp and write about an amazing experience. In fact, the No. 1 mistake doctors when it comes to reviews is not ASKING for them.

Patients are more likely to go online to share a negative experience than a positive one. You are only one negative review away from a bad online reputation.  The key is to implement a Reputation Marketing Program that will put asking for and getting reviews on auto-pilot.

There are several effective methods of getting reviews from your patients that you can use for reputation marketing purposes, including:

  • Counter cards – Small cards that will ideally be sitting in a prominent place at the checkout desk that asks patients for reviews and includes the links to review sites that you’d like them to visit.
  • Follow up emails – Send a follow-up email to patients within a week after their visit. Thank them for choosing your practice and invite them to give you feedback on how you did. Include links to your listing on Google+ Local, Yelp, Yahoo, Healthgrades, and Facebook or other sites where you want their feedback.
  • Links to review sites on your practice website – Office staff can encourage patients to visit your website and provide reviews and feedback.
  • A review submission drawing promotion – Offer your patients a chance to win a monthly drawing if they leave your practice an online review.
  • Newsletter – If you regularly send patients a newsletter, include in it a request for online reviews. If your newsletter is digital, include a link to review sites
  • Social Media Requests – If you use social network marketing such as Twitter or Facebook, which is highly recommended as part of your medical Internet marketing strategy, you can periodically include a request for recommendations from your followers in Tweets or Facebook status updates.

Get Help Setting Up the Review Program For Your Office

While you can certainly manage your online reviews within your practice, this can be a time consuming task. Online reputation is important and having professionals who are constantly revitalizing the approach to reputation marketing can save you time and increase business.

When utilizing the reputation marketing services of Thunderhead Marketing, you’ll have an even  better resource to help you get online reviews for your practice. We will set up an online review program for your patients to leave reviews on key websites. This method has had tremendous impact for our clients, significantly increasing the number of reviews received each month!

Online patient reviews and reputation marketing are a vital part of a healthy medical practice. Don’t leave your online reputation to luck! Contact Thunderhead Marketing today to build your 5-star reputation across the web and get a FREE reputation report for your business.