So you’re asking yourself, how to ask patients for reviews? You’ve come to the right place.

The shaping of your medical practice’s online reputation is happening whether you are managing it or not. Your prospective patients make snap judgements about you based on the first things they see when they search the web.

Word of mouth is incredibly important, and online, the first place you will see the impact of this is in the form of online reviews. Ninety-one percent of 18 to 34-year-olds trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations!

When you’re focused on providing the best care possible and keeping your practice up and running, how do you go about managing the online reputation of your medical practice? What are the best practices for managing reviews? We explored this in a recent conversation with an expert in the field of online reputation management. We wanted to find out exactly how to ask patients for reviews so you can improve doctor ratings, engage with patients online who are leaving reviews, and drive more business to your medical practice.

Our CEO, Ethan Bechtel sat down with Matt Murray, CEO of online reputation management company, Widewail, to find out how to ask patients for reviews most effectively.

Here are five of the most impactful things we learned that you can take away to not only understand how to ask patients for reviews, but also how to use reviews to grow your medical practice:

1. Ask every patient for a review

While many people are afraid of opening up reviews to everyone for fear of having a negative impact on their business, Matt Murray suggests asking all your patients for reviews.

Why is that? The fact is, even as you figure out how to ask patients for reviews, you’re inevitably going to get some negative reviews because people with complaints are more likely to seek out a forum to voice them.

Having negative reviews should give you even more incentive to ask everyone. If you’re focusing in on providing an excellent patient experience when you start asking everyone, the ratio of good to bad will change, and your star rating is likely to improve.

Plus, you can use those negative reviews as a way to build trust and authenticity. We’ll get into that more when we talk about responding to reviews.

2. Send patients to review on Google first

If your goal is to grow your practice, it makes sense to use texting to drive patients to leave an online review on Google first before other patient review sites. Matt Murray says most businesses today get about 70% of their traffic from Google, so it’s the main source of exposure to prospective patients.

We know you’re thinking, “shouldn’t I focus on healthcare specific review sites to get reviews for my medical practice?” Yes, you can absolutely ask for reviews on those sites. The more exposure you can get the better (as long as you’re managing your reviews).

That said, in answering how to ask patients for reviews and deciding your best path forward, you have to remember that Google indexes all those other healthcare specific review sites. By gaining ground with Google reviews on your Google My Business page, you’re likely going to see your exposure increase. It should come as no surprise that Google favors Google Reviews. Their listings come up first when you search, after all.

Need another reason to focus on Google Reviews? Statistics show that organizations who improve their Google My Business profile’s rating from a 3.5 to 3.7 stars can experience conversion growth of 120%.

3. Search engines rank on volume, frequency, quality and response when it comes to reviews.

Of course the number of online patient reviews you have matters when stacking up against your competitors, but what’s equally important is how recent your reviews are and how frequently new reviews are coming in. Diving deeper into how to how to ask patients for reviews, Matt Murray says the tenets of reputation management for local businesses are volume, frequency, quality and response. When you’re looking at how to ask patients for reviews, you need to think like Google at the same time that you’re thinking like a clinician.

Some statistics to ponder around the reputation management tenets:

Volume of patient reviews

Your patients expect to see reviews when they look you up on the internet. In fact, a recent study showed that individuals need to see, on average, 40 online reviews before they believe the star rating associated with your reviews profile.

Those reviews impact where your practice sits in search results also, as organizations who appear in the top three in search results average 47 Google Reviews.

Frequency of patient reviews

Have some reviews but haven’t kept up with it? You might want to get back to it! When it comes to online reviews, 86% of people only look at reviews from the past three months and 50% only look at the reviews from the last two weeks!

Does that frequency and recency have an impact on their business? You bet it does!

Organizations with more than nine reviews that are posted within the last three months earn 52% more than average. Those with more than 25 reviews? Well, they earn 108% more than the average.

Quality of patient reviews

Does the quality of your ratings and reviews matter to your patients? Without question. While we love to see all five stars lit up, don’t put all your eggs in that basket.

People read reviews and they influence their decision making. The quality of the written word, as it turns out, is more important as 73% of people said they put more stock in written reviews than they do a star rating.

Response to patient reviews

Did you know that seventy-five percent of businesses don’t even respond to their reviews? Not even to say thank you or to acknowledge a positive review! This means the vast majority of practices haven’t figured out how to ask patients for reviews and you can be a first mover in the space.

What many do not realize is that organizations that respond to reviews even 25% of the time generate an average of 35% more revenue. Thats a significant first mover benefit!

What we’re saying is that responding to reviews can quite literally pay off in spades.

4. Responding to patient reviews is crucial

Prospective patients like to see that a practice is responsive to both positive and negative reviews. After you’ve figured out how to ask patients for reviews, Matt Murray says, as uncomfortable as it may sound, negative reviews are actually a good thing. They allow you to demonstrate that you care in your response and lend your Google My Business page authenticity.

So, you may be asking, “what happens if my practice gets a bad review?” The truth is, negative reviews can be an opportunity to have a positive impact on your online reputation and your practice if you manage it correctly.

For one, you and your staff may learn something about your practice that you can adjust or fix to provide a better patient experience and improved patient satisfaction. Two, and probably most important, if someone leaves a negative review for your medical practice, you can engage with them in a public forum to address the issues and leave the patient with an overall positive experience.

Pro tip: when you are engaging in meaningful conversation that is headed in a positive direction, suggest taking it offline so you can continue the conversation outside the public forum for a more honest, one to one dialogue.

5. A 4.0 star rating is the minimum if you want to get noticed

When you’re trying to figure out how to ask patients for reviews keep this in mind: patients are always going to want to see the best of any given specialty in their area. To find it, they’re likely to search phrases like “best pediatrician near me”.

That word “best”. That’s an important one. Same with words like “near me”. Those are called search modifiers, and they play a key role in how Google shows your search results.

When it comes to Google Reviews and your medical practice’s Google My Business page a search modifier can have a lot of impact in acquiring a potential patient. In fact, if your Google star rating is below a 4.0, your practice will not show up in any search including the word “best”. Google will automatically strip out any result that is 3.9 stars or lower.

It can also have a massive impact on your business overall. A positive review matters. When a person uses the search modifier “near me,” a Google Review star rating increase of just 0.1 could increase the conversion rates of a business location by 25%, meaning that they’re getting more calls, more requests for directions, and more website clicks.

Watch the full discussion

Watch the full video and read the transcript of “The Patient Conversation” with Ethan Bechtel and guest, Matt Murray, of Widewail.

How can OhMD help me get more patient reviews?

If you couldn’t tell already, we’re passionate about the patient conversation and helping you grow your practice.

Are you trying to grow your practice? If so, you can use OhMD to ask patients for reviews to bolster your online image. Research shows that 77% of consumers go to online reviews first to search for new physicians—whether on Google or Healthgrades, provider websites, or health plan websites.

Patient reviews can be the tools that set you apart from your competitors and ultimately make or break your practice. According to BrightLocal, one bad review can cost a business 30 customers. It’s important to not only multiply the number of reviews you get, but to cultivate positive feedback over negative.

Use OhMD to Get Patient Reviews

OhMD is a great platform for medical marketing. It allows you to ask patients for reviews in a way that is personal and integrates with your workflow. Here’s how we suggest asking patients for a review:

Connect with us and we can walk you through our Reputation Management solution. This will help you make review requests and engagement seamless and efficient for both your practice and your patients.

Alternatively, you can follow this process.

Step 1.

To send or create a new saved reply, click the bookmark icon in the chat box.

Create a post-appointment saved reply in which you check in on the patient and ask their level of satisfaction with the care they received. You want this message to be personal and to demonstrate your concern for the patient experience. It might sound something like this:

“Hello [patient name], this is [name] at [practice name]. I just wanted to check in and see how your visit went today. Was it a positive experience for you?”

Regardless of how the patient replies, you gain valuable information. If they have negative feedback, you have the opportunity to listen, make necessary changes to your patient experience, and hopefully convert them to a happy customer. If the patient responds with positive feedback, go on to step 2 to ask for a review.

Step 2.

Send the patient a second saved reply asking if they’d consider writing your practice a review online. Your query doubles as a medical marketing tool, and a platform for patient feedback. You might phrase it like this:

“That’s great! Would you consider posting a review for us on Google? Patient reviews help us to grow our practice and serve more of the community. We’d appreciate it!”

To make giving a review easy for patients, embed the link to your Google, Healthgrades or Yelp page in the saved reply.

The Bottom Line

If you put yourself in a prospective patient’s shoes, you’ll likely be looking online for the right doctor. According to Hitwise, 68% of consumers start their mobile health research with a search engine. That means that using medical marketing to get your practice on the map and having good patient reviews to back you is crucial in growing your practice.