Forty-two. Depending on your age, interests and point of view, it’s a number of impressive significance. Jackie Robinson’s jersey, the sum of the spots on a pair of dice or The Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything.”
“According to a new report from practice management consultancy group Software Advice, it also represents the percentage of people who now rely on online reviews when choosing a doctor. In other words, assuming you provide the service(s) they seek, not having online reviews means that there’s a good chance 42 out of 100 potential patients will go elsewhere.
More to the point, perhaps, the number represents a 68% increase over the previous year, suggesting that the importance of online reviews is only going to grow as time goes on.
Among the study’s other findings:
Patients use reviews before, during and after care: Not surprisingly, most patients (61%) use online reviews prior to choosing a provider. However, 19% use them after selecting a doctor and 20% use them to evaluate their current doctors.
Doctors should be aware that both current and new patients may be using reviews to evaluate their performance, says the report’s author, John Leslie, and thus having a positive online presence on review sites is a step toward not just attracting patients, but retaining them.
Reviews increasingly fuel choices: According to the survey, nearly half of respondents (44%) said they would consider going to an out-of-network doctor if their reviews were better than those of in-network doctors, up from just 26% last year. That’s a jump of nearly 70%, which should be of particular interest to providers of reconstructive or other covered services.
Consulting an out-of-network doctor is no small inconvenience to a patient. As such, the fact that nearly half of respondents would consider such a change based on reviews speaks to just how big of a role such reviews can play in a patient’s decision.
Review readers can tell good from bad from BS: 85% of respondents said they’d be at least “moderately, very or extremely likely” to choose one doctor over another based on positive reviews. Equally important, though, they’re increasingly adept at disregarding negative reviews when they seem exaggerated, the author sounded unreasonable or the doctor responded thoughtfully.
This information should allay physician fears regarding negative reviews, says Leslie. Reviews tend to be positively motivated and interpreted, and thus, proactively encouraging patients to leave good reviews is far more a benefit than a risk.
Add it all up — more people reading more online reviews more of the time — and one thing is clear. Even if online reviews aren’t the aforementioned Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything, they play a crucial role in getting aesthetic consumers to say yes.
Doctors who dismiss online reviews do themselves a disservice
Given the elective nature of many aesthetic procedures, it’s hardly surprising that people incorporate reviews from others as they consider their options. In fact, when visitors to RealSelf.com were surveyed on what sort of content was most influential in selecting a doctor, 57% said reviews, more than any other type of content. Encouraging existing patients to post reviews, either through your own efforts or tools like Patient Engage, gives potential future ones the information they seek and the confidence that they’re making the right choice.