As it turns out, Google reviews are pretty powerful when it comes to growing your patient practice. We learned why Google reviews and your practice’s Google My Business page are critical components of the success of your patient practice in a recent discussion on the topic. OhMD CEO, Ethan Bechtel recently sat down with Matt Murray of Widewail for “The Patient Conversation” to discuss the importance of Google reviews and managing reviews on other sites. We also dive into how to ask your patients for reviews and how to handle negative reviews online so you can stand out against local competition.

Transcript

Ethan Bechtel: [00:00:00] Word of mouth is critical for the success of every business and in healthcare, medical practices are no different. There’s so much opportunity to leverage word of mouth through reviews and other digital presence to drive business into a medical practice. And, so as time goes on, we can learn that patients go to the internet to find new doctors, and that’s where they start.

They read through reviews and they make a determination as to who they want to go see for a medical condition. What we wanted to do is talk to an expert in the space that understands the importance of reviews,  the importance of creating an authentic digital conversation with patients, to drive business into a practice and help ultimately grow that practice.

One thing that’s been interesting in the last year is the movement during COVID to the internet to solve healthcare problems. And so this is a really important space to focus on. So much has changed in just a year and if a practice isn’t looking at what’s going on to drive patients into their practice on the internet, they should be.

We’re going to talk to Matt Murray today, who is the CEO of a company called Widewail that focuses on reviews, how to manage them, how to get positive reviews and ultimately how to grow a business— in this case, a medical practice— by leveraging tools you have available to you and driving patients toward you when there’s a good fit. And so, I’m really, really excited to have this conversation with Matt Murray.

Ethan Bechtel: [00:02:08] To get us kind of started here, can you give us a little bit of information about Widewail and where it all came from?

Matt Murray: Yeah, sure. So first of all, thanks for having me. I really appreciate the opportunity.

Widewail is just over two and a half years old. It was born out of the idea that local businesses generally have a really hard time executing any kind of digital engagement strategy. Like how do you staff, for instance, and then go purchase technology. The cost becomes very prohibitive for you to monitor things like reviews and social comments. 

And so we said, “Hey, we could build a monitoring platform and staff it with experts, right?” People who just do this for a living to help local business owners keep their costs down and it’s a more scalable solution, things of that nature. Over the past couple years, you know, we’ve grown the solution to include automated review generation capabilities, which is really in recognition of the power of ratings and reviews and local search, as you mentioned, Ethan.

Today we serve just about a thousand locations across the US and are having a great time doing it.

Ethan Bechtel: [00:03:18] Awesome. So, I love this space. I think healthcare is a perfect place to kind of leverage what you guys do to bring patients and put them in contact with the right provider.

From our perspective as healthcare people, I’m curious about how you think about a practice, or a business in general, being found online versus being chosen by the searcher— in this case, a patient. How do reviews play into, you know, being found and then being chosen as the business or practice that a patient wants to engage with?

Matt Murray: Yeah, that’s great. So we… unlike you… we think of all businesses as having a shared fundamental problem, right? I have to be found, I have to be chosen. And if you were to ask a practice, I’m sure, you know, they’re aware of X number of competitors within driving distance of their location. Meaning everybody’s got some local competition.

Our customer today, or patient, are by the very nature of the world that we live in, doing a lot more research before they make the next step. Especially, I think, obviously because of the coronavirus, right? We’re making very conscious choices. Search volume is up dramatically on Google. Screen time generally is through the roof.

So when we’re making choices as consumers, we’re asking Google for a recommendation and forgetting search ranking, just for a moment, you can do a search for any product or service in your local area and see that pretty dramatic presentation of things like star rating and volume. 

So, you know, for years, I would say even the past decade plus, I mean, ratings and reviews go back to kind of the beginning part of the century online, folks have been trained to recognize, “Hey, 4.5 and 300 reviews. That’s really great”. Right? That’s some great aggregate feedback that I can rely on. Fast forward to kind of the last three to, let’s call it, three to five years. Google is showing search preference. It’s showing improved search rankings for any local business of any type who is clearly demonstrating a great experience for their customer or their patient or their member or their guests, you know? And why does that happen? I mean, look, Google is a for-profit business, too. So if they can be sure that their searchers are going to have a great offline experience, it’s not only good for the consumer, it’s good for Google. 

How should medical practices be thinking of the volume and recency of patient reviews?

Ethan Bechtel: [00:06:03] That makes sense. So you mentioned in there volume of reviews. How should medical practices be thinking of the volume of reviews and, I guess, the recency of them? How do those kinds of variables play into a successful web presence? 

Matt Murray: Yeah, I think, you know, the rule of thumb first is to be conscious of what your landscape looks like. Take a look at your competitors. In most industries today, reputation management, ratings and reviews are not top of mind. So it may be very easy for you to take that lead position, that first mover advantage. The question of how many reviews should I get is a really challenging one. And I’ll try to describe it like this, you know, if you have a thousand reviews and everybody else does, too, then you have zero reviews in essence, right?

And research shows that any review that’s older than two weeks old is losing value to your prospect. Right, so people need to see recency. In fact, the tenets today of reputation management for local businesses are volume, frequency, quality, and response. That’s the strategy that you have to put in place.

So you know, we talk a lot about the “always on solicitation strategy”. You need that fresh feedback, generally think of 20 to 40 reviews per month, to really lead the pack. 

Should I ask patients to leave Google reviews or let them come in organically?

Ethan Bechtel: [00:07:38] That’s interesting. Yeah. I mean, I think as a consumer myself, I certainly, I’d never put kind of any data behind it, but I certainly feel that, right? Like if I go to search for a business and there’s no recent reviews, you want to keep looking. So I guess I hadn’t really justified that with data, but that makes sense. 

So I guess, you know, that kind of leads me to the next question. You think about getting reviews and all of the process you want to put in place if  you first recognize the value of reviews your business. You kind of have to think through, like, what reviews are going to happen without me asking as a business or as a practice and what kind of reviews would I start to see if I was asking? And so how do you think about organic reviews that people are just going to leave because they’re your customer without you asking, so totally unsolicited, unprompted, versus the ones that you do ask for. How does that kind of play out? 

Matt Murray: Yeah. You know, what’s great is every time we talk to a business owner, on this subject, you know, specifically, we get a lot of head nods because there’s gut instinct in here. If you’re doing nothing, we can generally guess that your score is probably a 3.0 to a 3.6 because upset people leave reviews.

It’s just the fact. Whether or not we like it, people who are not happy or not satisfied, will find the venue or the forum where they can voice their opinion. And in a lot of ways unfortunately those people think that that negative review may actually do some damage to the business. It’s almost like a vengeance play or they think they’re going to get a subsequent deal, right? So they’re, you know, they think there’s some value to that.

When you start asking for reviews most businesses try a manual, “Hey, would you please leave us a review? We’ve got a postcard at the counter.” You know, we try those in-house solutions. We find that, through our own work, the best strategy is to just ask everybody, right? Because you’re going to get the negative reviews anyway. Your job is to activate the voice of that happy patient.

Ethan Bechtel: That makes sense. Yeah, everyone has an experience, right? So, every patient that goes to a practice has an experience, good or bad. Hopefully more good than bad. As a consumer, myself, as a patient for many many years of my life… how many times have I left a review? I can definitely count on one hand, and it’s either because I had an incredible experience or I didn’t have a good experience at all. But that in-between where people have, like, generally positive things to say, you’re saying, most of the time, they’re not going to leave a review, but if they did, if we asked them, they would. They would go and leave a positive review the vast majority of the time, it sounds?

Matt Murray: Yeah, if you go, you have to think about your own life. If you go to your allergist or you have your annual physical, you go and you get your appointment completed and you leave, and maybe you tell your loved ones, the folks that you live with, “Yeah, I had a good appointment today.”

But your mind doesn’t turn to voicing that opinion publicly in support of that practice. And that’s the challenge. How do we make this so easy that those folks who would leave you those four and five star reviews take 30 seconds to do so? 

How do I ask patients to leave a review?

Ethan Bechtel: [00:11:41] So, people are uncomfortable oftentimes asking for reviews. I think it can be an awkward thing to phrase. You don’t want to bother people. You want to make sure it doesn’t feel salesy. What’s the advice for a practice that wants to ask for reviews, but wants it to be comfortable? Is there a certain type of language or certain way to phrase the request in a way that doesn’t feel burdensome? 

Matt Murray: Yeah, so we lean on technology anyway. So I think generally, if you think about most offices, you have to check out at the front desk. That’s like your last touch point before you go back to your car.  With the technology that we’ve built and certainly in partnership with OhMD, the reminder is what you need. “Hey, you’re going to receive a text from us. Would you just take a moment to leave us a review?” You don’t have to ask. You can inform that this text is coming and make it the choice of the patient essentially. The one-on-one ask? Not only is it difficult, I think people become accustomed to it as they go, right? As they practice it.

However, it’s never going to be consistent. Meaning when an op tempo picks up, when you have a really busy day, are you going to remember to ask everybody? It doesn’t seem that likely. So, so having technology in place to facilitate the actual review solicitation process kind of eases some of that burden and then you’re left maybe, you know, reminding again, the patient that this communication is coming.

Ethan Bechtel: Got it. So expectation setting to prepare them for this thing. And then they still get to make the choice, but you’re easing in by letting them know it’s going to happen.

Matt Murray: That’s right. That’s right. And we generally see great conversion rates when a business is really upfront about what the next step will be and that the patient or customer should expect that communication.

How do I monitor and address patient reviews?

Ethan Bechtel: [00:13:47] Got it. That’s great. So let’s, I guess kind of move to what happens when the reviews start coming in? I think we can all kind of agree that getting patients to review, certainly based on the data, is likely to drive scores up, which is subsequently likely to drive new patients into the practice. But as these reviews are coming in, what does it look like to effectively manage the good and the bad? How should any practice be thinking about monitoring and addressing reviews as they come in? 

Matt Murray: So we talked about volume frequency and quality, right? And that, that happens through your solicitation efforts.

The quality of reviews, as a matter of fact, some business owners are concerned that if they ask for more reviews, they might actually damage their score. And I just want to mention that in almost any survey work, there’s a phenomenon that the more responses you get, the higher your score will be.

Certainly there’s a point of diminishing return. But you know, if you’re at a 4.0, let’s say, and you start asking everybody, there’s really great chance you’re going to be at 4.5/4.6 when you’re at maturity. So I just want to mention that on the response side of things, timeliness is extraordinarily important.

You have to remember the first that most people read are the last ten reviews. The last ten reviews will be your most recent reviews. So if you’re taking a significant amount of time to acknowledge folks with positive sentiment and you’re taking maybe longer to get a response out to that upset patient, you’re not presenting essentially the best customer experience you could be, the best patient experience for that next person who is your prospective patient. As a rule of thumb, we like to say 24 hours (is the window to respond to reviews). You know, worst case scenario, maybe somebody is really upset. We take some time to research what happened there and give a really thoughtful response, but that, that should happen within 24 hours.

And if you, as an example, find two businesses on Google. One that responds, and one that doesn’t, the difference is visual, right? You can, you can feel it just by looking at the business that’s got a great volume and frequency, quality of reviews, has a response strategy, versus kind of the bare and neglected Google My Business page.

Should I respond to negative reviews?

Ethan Bechtel: [00:16:13] Yeah I think it’s a really important point. You certainly see how they value their patients, right? Like if, I’ve seen both ends of the spectrum, I think, where you have someone who’s left a negative review and the practice disagrees with that and then they make that public rather than, you know, addressing it cordially. And that never goes well, it seems. 

And so you know, treating  patients the way you would want to be treated as a patient, certainly feels like the right move. And certainly taking it offline when, you know, once you’ve responded, to further address any concerns if you get something that’s negative, I think works to kind of build back trust or build back on that relationship where you may have lost something and doing it in a timely manner is huge. There’s ways to recover from this stuff. You just have to be paying attention and treating your customers or patients well. 

Matt Murray: Yeah, we commonly say negative reviews are a good thing. Which is really uncomfortable for, for any business owner, but you, you actually recognize if you ever find a business or a product that’s got a thousand reviews, let’s say, and a five star rating. A little red flag goes up like immediately, right. Something is, they’re cooking the books here. 

So we generally see kind of like 4.5, 4.6 is a great target star rating. To achieve that, you need some less than positive feedback, right? But that’s the human side of business. We get the opportunity to show that we really care in the instances when somebody is not that satisfied. And that lends again, authenticity, and, you know, it makes the rest of your positive reviews feel genuine.

Should I focus on a specific site to get patient reviews? Google? Facebook? Something else?

Ethan Bechtel: [00:18:06] Yeah, that’s great. So I guess I think about all of the places people go naturally to leave reviews, and it certainly feels like there’s a lot of places where one could leave a review.

Do you have a certain kind of framework for focusing on getting your patients or clients to leave reviews in one platform versus another? If we’re talking, you know, Yelp or in healthcare, Healthgrades. Obviously Google… Where should a practice focus most? Because we can’t focus on all of these platforms and driving reviews there. So where should we focus most of our time and energy in getting reviews on a particular platform?

Matt Murray: Every vertical has their own vertical specific sites. You brought up Healthgrades. You know, car dealers have Cars.com or Dealer Rater. Here’s a universal truth: Google is the largest review site in the world.

In most cases for any local business, I can tell that business owner that they’re getting 70% of their traffic from Google today, already. So optimizing for Google first is about making sure that you’re, you’ve got great search visibility. It’s about growing your business. I would invite any business owner to actually take a look at their web metrics, you know, open up your referrals report and look for a 90/180 day period and tell me how much your vertical specific review site really matters at that point. 

You know, and this isn’t to say that there isn’t value on a site like Healthgrades, however, they’re competing with Google, in essence, right? So, so Google first, always. Provide the option, though. There’s nothing wrong with providing the option. Some folks will be more comfortable leaving that review on Healthgrades and that’s fantastic. 

Ethan Bechtel: Yeah. That makes sense. It’s interesting to think about. You know, to access all of these other sites, you’re going through Google anyway, right? You’re probably using Google Chrome and you’re searching with the Google search engine and, you know, if you’re going to a review site, you’re somehow along that path, passing Google to get there, right? So it makes a ton of sense that that the vast majority of reviews should or likely do end up on Google and that there’s downstream, kind of, positive implications of focusing on that first. It’s just everywhere, right?

Matt Murray: Yeah. To dork out for a minute here. From 2012, to I believe ‘17, what most people don’t realize is Facebook was actually the largest review site in the world. And then Google came back and I believe that timing is related to the decoupling of the Google My Business page from Google+. Like they have that, “Okay, social didn’t work for us, you know, we’re not gonna, we’re going to get rid of this”. And now that, the extraordinary investments that Google has made in that Google My Business page, that just made it the front runner in multiple categories. And I think quite frankly, what you’re going to see is, is the Google My Business page for a local business will be the first website that your customer visits. You see them adding product categories and some industries actually adding inventory listings, right, to that Google My Business page. 

So, you know, invest the time and energy there. Google My Business signals and Google reviews are more important than the location of a searcher when looking for your practice, for the first time in history. So, yeah, so my example would be, let’s even take estheticians, a couple of estheticians, in the same two block radius. You’re not necessarily going to see the closest office because you asked for “esthetician near me”. Google is going to show you the closest with the best experience, which might very well be, you know, that business a couple blocks away.

Ethan Bechtel: Does that mean… is this kind of an indication that Google has figured out, improved the algorithm so much that they’ve figured out kind of how to marry  online presence and offline presence in a way that they can surface really what will be, in theory, the best, kind of, option for you as a customer or as a patient?

Matt Murray: Yeah, it’s turbulent. I would call it turbulent times. And what I mean by that is… one business who is ahead, who has done a great job of driving 4.5 star rating and 500 reviews doesn’t necessarily mean that they are the best in real life. It means that that business owner understood that there’s some first mover advantage here.

So, that’s how I would start. Second, I mean, it’s a beautiful thing, the technology here. You’re talking about natural language processing on a scale that, you know, a few people can even, you know, consider, right? So Google is kind of living up to that “don’t be evil” motto and saying, “I’m trying the best I can every day to figure out what the best deli or the best practice or the best story is in this geolocation. It’s, it’s pretty great. 

Ethan Bechtel: Yeah, it’s amazing. I certainly have felt that the algorithms to kind of figure out what that language, what, what the copy on the website means, what the reviews mean, it’s certainly always improving. But to your point before, the kind of first mover advantage, I’ve also been duped to a certain extent by, like, really good reviews and then realizing like, “You know, maybe this isn’t exactly what, you know, what I thought it would be based on these reviews.”

But I do feel like the thing that sets the real businesses apart that you want to do business with, or the practices that you know, the doctors you want to consider going to, is that authenticity, right? The genuine nature of the responses, the real conversations that are happening within those reviews.

That’s what tells me, to your point before, this is a real thing, versus that the books are cooked type of situation where it’s just too good to be true.

Matt Murray: [00:24:44] Yeah. I don’t know this, so I’m going to be really careful, but I’m willing to bet that in the healthcare industry, the search modifier “best” is extraordinarily common. Like you’re looking for the best pediatrician, you’re looking for your best dentist. So I would invite your listeners, your audience to try this: go to your computer right now and pull up Google maps and search for dentists in whatever the closest metro is. You know,  “dentists, Minneapolis.”

Okay. So you’re going to get the map, and a bunch of pins. The immediate next search that I want you to conduct is “best dentists in Minneapolis” and you’ll watch half of the dentists disappear from the map. Google won’t show… this is like the best demonstration… Google won’t show businesses below a 4.0 star rating if you add the word “best”. 

Ethan Bechtel: Wow. That’s incredible! 

Matt Murray: Yeah. I mean it is. This is part of our sales presentation. We take that person’s business and show them live. Doesn’t matter if it’s the best car dealership or the best lawyer, you know, we just do that search and show them that, you know, this is a very visual representation of what can happen to your business.

And in healthcare, I’ve got to imagine, again, the “best” is a very common search. 

Ethan Bechtel: I think we just kind of uncovered a hidden gem there. Like I do spend a lot of time trying to understand that space and I never thought about that. Specifically, the idea that a search modifier like that, adding best to every search, which 100% is what every patient does that wants to find the best of a certain specialist in their area, never thought about that that would dictate the results based on a correlation with star rating.

Matt Murray: It’s  the most visual way to see how Google uses star rating and reputation for sure. 

Ethan Bechtel: Is that something… that modifier… that’s something that you find is used in other types of businesses as well? I’m sure it must vary. I can’t think of where I use “best” to, search for something outside of healthcare. I’m sure it’s a thing, though. Where have you seen that?

Matt Murray: And I, this is old data, too. I believe it was in 2018. There was an 80% increase in the use of the word “best,” but like best restaurant, best oil change. You know, almost every segment has some form of search that is modified with “best”. And it’s becoming more prevalent, honestly, but just because we as a people are starting to understand how to use Google better. 

In fact, during the Super Bowl… this cracked me up. So during the Super Bowl, Google was advertising the use of the modifier “near me” as a commercial. They paid Super Bowl rates to tell people to use “near me.” And what does that do? Every time you’ve used “near me,” you pull up the map pack. The three, you know, that three pack there. And the ranking in that map pack is directly related to Google My Business signals and Google Reviews signals. And then location and a bunch of other things.

Ethan Bechtel: Got it. So if I’m like any other business, if I’m a medical practice, I’m a physician or a practice manager thinking about growing my practice. These are real considerations. Like this is the idea of this “best” modifier. This “near me” thing. These all play a pretty substantial role in getting potential patients to know who we are. Is that right? 

Matt Murray: So, our best customers at Widewail are businesses that present maybe a higher value product or service, certainly healthcare, that’s a little bit more considered or researched, right? So, if I look across most industries today, whether it’s furniture stores, you know, healthcare practices…  Most local businesses are not paying attention to this.

So again, I see incredible first mover opportunity for those businesses who implement the process to constantly drive that online feedback because you’ll look at your competitors, they might have 20 lifetime reviews, right? And suddenly with commitment, four months later, you’re going to have 120 and you’re now out in front running and everybody else has to catch up.

What did you see as a result? More phone calls from the Google My Business page, more people asking for directions to your practice, those kinds of lower funnel, you know, conversion metrics. 

Ethan Bechtel: I think that’s really powerful when coupled with the idea that patients are taking control of their healthcare more and more, right? Like there was a time, you know, even growing up for me when the doctor told you something like that was the, that was the story. There was nothing else to it. There are no further questions to ask. I can’t question this because there’s nowhere to go to get a second opinion. You know, on the internet, you know, it wasn’t really a thing like it is today. 

And so I think it feels like as patients are looking for a better experience they have all the resources kind of at the tips of their fingers. They can pull up the best you know, orthopedists for knee replacements near me. And they can choose to go to see that person over the orthopedist that maybe they had been seeing before. And that wasn’t always easy to do.

You talk about getting an oil change, right? Like there might be, down this road, there may be ten different places that’ll do an oil change and it’s easy to go from one to the next to the next, because there’s no expectation of, you know, a doctor always being right. These are people that do oil changes, so I’m willing to go from one to the other and try different people. Healthcare is so, so different because we’ve always been kind of constrained to listen to the doctor that is standing in front of us and that’s all changing now. 

So one of the things that I had looked up before this conversation was, you know, what percentage of people are going online to find a doctor? And I think it’s over, you know, over half of people that are going out looking for a new doctor are first going through the reviews to make sure that this is someone that they’re even interested in reaching out to. It’s such a shift in the way that we’ve kind of put physicians on a pedestal and never questioned them. 

And now we’re looking at these other data elements that we never had access to before, like the perspective of people like us as patients. So I just find it so intriguing to think about the shift away from doctors that maybe don’t focus on patient experience to the ones that do and can prove it with their authenticity and genuine responses on the internet. And the data is just kind of sitting there growing so that I can kind of see it all. 

How do online patient reviews help to build trust?

Matt Murray: [00:32:31] Yeah, there’s a, again, maybe a resource for your audience. There’s a woman named Rachel Botsman, who is a fellow at Oxford who does a lot, she studies trust. The evolution of trust, right? And, to sum it up, she basically says, “look, trust 200 years ago was local, all word of mouth. I got all my services within walking distance of my home. And then it became institutional. We trust the government, we trust the media, we trust GM. We trust people with lots of money and palatial facilities. Maybe I trust this physician because that’s where my parents went. I buy a Ford because that’s what my dad bought, right?

And today trust is very much distributed amongst our peers demonstrated by the fact that 85% of people trust reviews as much as personal recommendations, right? So I could ask you, Ethan, where should I go? Or I could go listen to the voice of 400 people that I’ve never met before. They are fundamentally the same to me. So, a huge shift in, sort of, trust dynamics generally. 

Ethan Bechtel: Yeah. That makes sense. And I think, you know, there’s a devil’s advocate kind of perspective on this, where if I’m a physician, I may know that there’s a difference between providing you the care that you need to make you healthy and the perception of that being the same thing as providing a good experience or like good bedside manner.

The scary thing I think for a lot of practices is anyone can leave a review and that review doesn’t necessarily have to be tied to whether you are healthy or not. That review may be more about whether they felt like you cared or you were providing a good experience, or you had good bedside manner or, you know, any of those things. 

And I think those are all important things, but I think there are a lot of physicians and other clinicians that are focused on getting you healthy. And they may miss some of those other things, but man, they got you healthy if figured out what you needed to get figured out. And they still, you know, maybe it didn’t get the review they thought they needed because maybe the bedside manner wasn’t where it should be.

So it’s really interesting. And I’m sure that that applies in industries as well, but certainly in healthcare. That’s what I’ve heard from physicians over time. They’re doing their best and they’re great doctors, but they may have some things to improve. It’s just, those things are represented through the lens of the patient, which doesn’t always see things the same way. 

Matt Murray: Yeah. I mean, you learn fortunately or unfortunately, in some cases, you learn about the whole customer experience. So you may be a fantastic doctor with a rough billing process. You may have a practice where the waiting room is just chronically cold, where the bathroom isn’t as clean as it could be. These things, these little points that a patient’s going to have with the business are amplified in reviews and, you know, the converse is true here, too.

You’re going to hear about how great your facility is, how wonderful the receptionist is, you know. But you have to be open-minded, especially if you’ve never offered the opportunity for folks to leave that public feedback that you’re going to hear about ways that you could improve that have nothing to do with the care that you provide.

Ethan Bechtel: Yeah. That makes sense. I certainly see a lot of…Healthcare is crazy. Most medical practices everyone’s running around very, very busy every single day. And so it’s easy to miss some of those pieces of the experience, especially because there’s always a handoff or multiple handoffs.

You walk in, you check in at the front desk, maybe a nurse, he may take you back, take your vitals, hand off to the doctor. And she does her thing. Then you get handed off to the checkout area. You talk to the billing folks. Like there are so many handoffs and so there’s oftentimes a lot of opportunity for improvement in those different areas. And there’s no one looking at each area as a part of this entire visit and what it means for the patient as an experience, right?

How do I improve my practice’s feedback loop using patient reviews?

Matt Murray: [00:37:00] Yeah. This is the feedback loop and it’s very beneficial. I mean, if you try to do this privately…so what most businesses have done for years is try to send email based private feedback surveys.

And these aren’t one question surveys. These are ten, twenty, thirty questions, but they’re email-based. And what we’re all seeing is the declining open rates in email, therefore less feedback. Is this data statistically significant anymore? That’s not going to be the best source of data moving forward. Like we need to make this very quick and easy. Let’s get a couple of comments from this person and send them on their way. And then we aggregate and identify opportunities for improvement.

Ethan Bechtel: That makes sense. Yeah. I always have the best intentions when I get the feedback surveys. Sometimes it’s a piece of paper. Sometimes it’s an email and I open it up. It’s like, “Oh, this is 30 questions,” and I always tell myself I’ll get back to it and never do it. I’m sure I’m not, not the only one. 

Matt Murray: Every time you buy a car, it’s like these crazy packets you get, it’s like how many people really do the whole thing? 

Ethan Bechtel: Right. Not many, I don’t think.

What’s one thing I shouldn’t do or should stop doing when it comes to patient reviews?

Ethan Bechtel: [00:38:13] All right. Well, I think, you know, one of the kind of final questions, as I think through this review process, there are so many things we’ve talked about that are helpful in guiding us in how to think about getting reviews and managing reviews.

I think there’s probably a whole list of things that you, in all of what you know about this space, which is a lot, like you would probably have like a top three list, I’m guessing, of things not to do. Is that something that you have off the top of your head? Like if I’m a medical practice, like what are the things I should absolutely not be doing as it relates to reviews?

Matt Murray: Yeah. The very first, because I don’t want anybody to end up on the news… If you can’t control your emotion and response to an upset patient, don’t respond, for crying out loud. Especially, especially on Facebook. Facebook allows for the threaded conversation under a review. You’ll never win. There’s never going to be a positive outcome there because everybody else will go to the defensive patient. So being… complete lack of defensiveness and a lack of emotion, if you can’t adhere to those two, then you shouldn’t engage. Maybe you need some help to get somebody else to help you do it, right? 

Should I gate my patient reviews to drive only people with positive experience?

The simple answer: NO!

Matt Murray: [00:39:38] Secondly, when you start asking for reviews and you’re using some technology, you can’t “review gate”. So review gating is against Google’s policies. It’s against Facebook’s policy. It’s just against review site policies. What that looks like, some of your listeners, your audience will be familiar with this, is there’s a probing question first that goes to the patient that says, did you have a good experience, yes or no? If you say yes, you get to leave a review. If you say no, you’d go to a private feedback form. That’s called the review gating, being a violation of the review side policies.

If, let’s say, Google figures out that that provider is review gating, they will wipe out reviews from your Google My Business page. So you might’ve spent a year gathering up, you know, you went from 50 to 400 and you’re so excited and you’d go back to 200. Very painful. 

How do I use technology to help me manage reviews?

And lastly, I would urge, I think just as a best practice, you have to get technology involved because anytime people are responsible for a process, and I don’t have to tell any of the practices that are listening, you all know this…you will never be consistent in that effort when it’s an added responsibility that’s 10% of somebody’s time. Right?

And what you don’t want is a lack of, again, volume, frequency and quality. That frequency is so important. So you can’t go a month on month off, month on month off, to get some support for yourself. There are really reasonable solutions out there, right, that aren’t, you know, by any means going to break the bank. And if you get involved now, again, get that first mover opportunity. 

Ethan Bechtel: That makes sense. Well, this has been awesome. Just talking through all of this with you, I know we, we all kind of have a lot to learn about how this is working and your, kind of, your finger’s on the pulse of these changes.  It’s not a slow changing space. There’s a lot happening at all times, so it’s, it’s really important stuff. So I really appreciate you taking the time to sit with me and talk through this, answer my questions, and hoping we can do this again at some point once there’s new information for us to learn.

Matt Murray: Yeah I appreciate it, Ethan. It’s been, it’s great to get the invite. Great to join you. I hope you have a great weekend. 

Ethan Bechtel: Awesome. Thanks Matt. Really appreciate it. Talk to you soon.

Matt Murray: Take care.

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