What some hospitals are doing to combat negative reviews

Patients are using Yelp and other online sources to decide where to seek treatment

Hospitals are employing several strategies to better control their online presence and improve patient satisfaction ratings, Lena Sun writes for the Washington Post.

Would-be patients have increasingly been comparing hospital and physician reviews on websites such as Healthgrades.com, Google Plus, and Yelp as they shop for medical care amid rising out-of-pocket costs.

Healthgrades launches new doctor comparison and rating website

However, online reviewers are less likely to focus on treatments and more likely to focus on patient experiences, such as how quickly and conveniently they received care, and whether providers were kind to them.

Most negative physician reviews relate to wait times and scheduling, as opposed to the care itself, Sun writes in the Post.

Hospital efforts

To better control their online presence, some hospitals have hired "reputation management" staff who use new tools to monitor real-time data and assess what patients are posting about physicians.

BuzzFeed: Doctors are losing the online comments war

Reputation management staff then can:

  • Engage patients by responding to questions and comments on social media to help resolve potential issues that could lead to negative reviews;
  • Identify specific trends in the reviews and share the information with providers so they can address the issues; and
  • Use the monitoring technology to survey patients and push positive comments out to ratings websites.

Meanwhile, some hospitals have launched their own online physician rating systems. For example, Cleveland Clinic's ratings site uses information from patient satisfaction surveys to display physician ratings on a five-star scale. The website—which is updated weekly—includes providers that have been reviewed by at least 30 patients and displays both negative and positive comments.

How 'important' are online physician ratings? It depends

Another strategy hospitals are using is to boost providers' connections with their patients. For example, one technology called HealthLoop allows physicians to follow up with patients daily through "virtual visits," in which patients are sent individualized emails containing questions, advice, and reminders specific to their conditions. The patients then can email questions and photos back to their providers (Sun, Washington Post, 6/3).

The takeaway: To improve patient satisfaction ratings, hospitals are hiring "reputation management" staff and launching their own surveys.

What you can do to improve patient satisfaction

Do you or your colleagues ever question the value of investing in the patient experience?

It's about more than raising HCAHPS scores—it's about building customer loyalty. How you recover from a service lapse can mean the difference between loyal customers and detractors.

Download this poster and share it with other leaders to reinforce why delivering excellent experiences can make all the difference.

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