Survey: Nine out of ten doctors worry about negative online reviews

By Jonah Comstock
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In , 80 percent rated their online reputation as very or extremely important and 90 percent expressed concern about the risks of negative feedback. But only 46 percent of respondents were planning to put resources toward improving that reputation in the next year.

The survey was commissioned by PatientPop, a digital health company with a vested interest in the results. The company, which raised $10 million in late 2015, aims to help practices acquire more patients, get better reviews online, drive repeat visits, and track marketing analytics. PatientPop offers appointment booking features so that patients will be able to schedule appointments. The service also sends patients a followup appointment reminder via text when the appointment is approaching.

Respondents were most likely to see their reviews on Google or Healthgrades, with 46.5 percent seeing their reviews on each of those sites. Yelp trailed just barely with 45.8 percent and Facebook came in at 37.3 percent. 

Providers worried about negative reviews for a number of reasons. Forty percent feared they would give people the wrong impression of their practice. Thirty percent feared it would be unfair or inaccurate. Fourteen percent were afraid bad reviews would keep their practice from acquiring new patients.

Sixty-two percent of the full sample said they had received at least one negative review, but 73 percent of providers who tracked their reviews said they were all or mostly positive.

"A well-managed online reputation has a significant influence on patients choosing a provider,” Luke Kervin, PatientPop cofounder and co-CEO, said in a statement. “It also optimizes a provider’s prominence in search results. Providers with great reviews, a well-rounded online presence, and exceptional service stand out, and will see patients gravitate to their practice. The survey results confirm healthcare providers currently aren’t doing enough to manage their online reputations.”

Thirty-six percent of respondents said they followed up with patients who left negative reviews. Forty-six percent had a plan to invest in improving their online reputation management. Most planned to do this by assigning their current staff to spend more time on reputation or by acquiring new technology or services. Only a few planned to hire new staff.

Results were collected last year from 200 providers from a wide variety of specialties and practice sizes, according to PatientPop.

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