Now more than ever, patients are behaving like empowered healthcare consumers. Rising deductibles associated with the Affordable Care Act (up by 26%), for example, are causing patients to pay closer attention to their healthcare decisions. It’s no surprise, then, that research from Deloitte shows an increasing number of people that are going online to find information to help them make educated medical purchases.
While there is no shortage of online destinations to find health care related information, the role of patient reviews and sites that rate doctors is on the rise. In fact, eMarketer found that 52% of U.S. Internet users are likely to use websites that offer quality rankings, satisfaction ratings, and patient reviews for specific doctors and hospitals. Perhaps even more telling are the findings from the University of Michigan’s Mott Children’s Hospital national poll on children’s health:
30 percent of parents who have gone online in their quest for a doctor have based their final decision on a doctor’s online ratings, while 30 percent have ruled out a doctor because of poor online ratings or reviews…data suggest that younger families are more likely to rely on online ratings, which means over time we’d expect the use of these websites will keep increasing.
So what does this mean for doctors and hospitals? The first step is to understand how satisfied your patients are before reading about it on Yelp. While there are many ways to collect patient feedback, the simplest and most powerful way to do it may be to use a text-message or automated telephone call campaign that measures “Net Promoter Score.” This metric was developed by Bain & Company and measures customer/patient loyalty. The single question that matters the most is, “How likely are you to recommend our practice/hospital to your friends and colleagues.” Based on the answer to that question you can group patients into the following categories:
- Promoters (score 9-10): loyal enthusiasts who will promote you to others
- Passives (score 7-8): satisfied but unenthusiastic and are vulnerable to competitive offerings.
- Detractors (score 0-6): unhappy customers who can damage your brand through negative word-of-mouth
From there, you can take action based on what category each patient falls into. For example, you could ask all of the passives and detractors additional questions that will identify why they are unsatisfied, and let them know that you will be working to improve your relationship with them in the future. For the promoters, you could still ask for more details, or simply ask that they post a review on your Yelp page, for example. Or better yet, have the system automatically send a link to your Yelp page, thus increasing the likelihood that they will post a positive review.
At the end of the day, satisfied patients are a great way to grow your practice, and activating their positive sentiment can get you on prospective patient’s shopping lists.
To learn more about what kind of service your customers want, download our 2014 Harris report here.
Photo by Flickr user Juhan Sonin. Edited.