More patients looking for health care online: Boost your digital presence

Tuesday 29 May 2018 by Graciela Rojas

Patients are increasingly looking for health care online, so ensuring your organization’s internet presence remains top-notch is more important than ever. For many healthcare consumers, a hospital’s online presence is the first impression they get of your facility – so you need to make it a good one.

More and more patients are researching providers using the internet, according to a new study from Kyruus, a provider-patient matching service. Over half of patients surveyed (53%) used online research to select a new healthcare provider.

While most patients still prefer to book appointments over the phone, and many appreciate referrals from current providers, the increase in digital research signals a changing tide.

Patients want to be able to check out their providers and hospitals before visiting for the first time, and improving your facility’s digital footprint can ensure patients choose you over your competitors.

Just sprucing up your hospital’s website shouldn’t be the only step your organization takes to fine-tune its web presence. The Kyruus study showed patients don’t usually begin their research directly on the hospital’s website – they do a general search first, which means online reviews and social media matter.

Addressing online reviews

You can’t change your hospital’s reviews: There will always be unhappy patients, and usually, those patients are the most vocal. You can, however, adapt your strategy for dealing with negative reviews.

Here are four strategies for approaching negative reviews:

  • Keep responses simple. If you’re publicly replying to the review, give a brief response with your facility’s general protocol for similar situations or conditions, avoiding specifics.
  • Apologize if necessary. Providers and staff sometimes do make mistakes. A sincere public apology may be your best move if there’s proof of the mistake. Own up to the error, and let the patient and the public know how the problem will be prevented in the future.
  • Respond privately. Instead of hitting the reply button, it may be better to contact the person directly, if possible. A private reply should be understanding and sympathetic without being defensive. Allowing the person to talk about the issue could help soothe hurt feelings.
  • Let other patients speak for you. Staying silent might be the best bet, especially if the review creates a “he said, she said” situation. Often, satisfied patients will speak up on a doctor’s or hospital’s behalf to disagree with negative reviews, and their positive feedback may be better than any words you could say in your defense.

Social media tactics

Since patients are looking everywhere for information about your hospital, paying attention to your social media strategies is another key step for improving your organization’s online impression.

Social media gives your hospital the opportunity to interact with current patients and entice new ones, so use it appropriately and intentionally. For example, your organization’s accounts could:

  • provide general info about health care and common conditions, like letting patients know about open enrollment for health insurance or when they can come in for flu shots
  • encourage patients to share feedback and thoughts, and
  • connect patients with healthcare treatments and services.

Companies like Best Hospital Advisor provide an opportunity for international hospitals to increase exposure to medical travelers who seek to identify providers offering value for money and even local consumers who are shopping for care in a national context. These innovative tool have been developed by Crowd Ventures a healthcare startup which seeks to use the power of the “crowd” to empower consumers in the healthcare market,  BHA has a database of 8400 + providers around the world with consumer-based reviews, information on satisfaction surveys, quality data and additional information that patients can use in making healthcare decisions.

In order to improve online reviews, patient retention, and hospital overall reputation, it’s a wise strategy to make follow-up phone calls a standard practice. Since the facility can’t always tell if a patient will return, it’s helpful to find out after a visit what they thought about their experience. It gives the facility a chance to clear up any lingering questions or doubts they may have. Follow-ups can be effective ways to persuade negative patients to change their attitudes and even reviews about your service. 
Best Hospital Advisor which provides a transparent health care platform where consumers can access, provide feedback and engage in their own health care decision-making  it’s a good tool for providers can continuously improve their strategies to provide quality care services.

Why using BHA?

BHA acts as a public portal that aims to empower consumers to enhance transparency and transform healthcare into a global marketplace.

Benefits for Patients by using BHA                        
·         Platform to evaluate international healthcare providers
·         Search by geographic area, specialty, procedure, international standards, etc.
·         Access to detailed hospital profile 
·         Access to medical service providers  ratings & reviews
·         Access to hospital  key process indicators
·         Access to patients satisfaction metrics
·         Direct communications channel with medical service providers

Benefits for Providers by using BHA
·         Global exposure platform to a worldwide audience of potential patients
·         Search by geographic area, specialty, procedure, international standards, etc.
·         Profile with detailed medical service provider information
·         Capability to request, capture and publish patient reviews in 65 specialties and 1,300 services
·         Capability to publish hospital  key process indicators
·         Dashboard to visualize and management of key process indicators
·         Dashboard to visualize and management of key process indicators

By investigating and improving your hospital’s digital presence beyond your website, you’re ensuring your organization makes an even better first impression on new and old patients alike. It is crucial to protect the online reputation as a doctor or medical provider since many patients now based decisions on online reviews.
For more information about BHA click here