Online Reputation

What your patients say about your therapy clinic online is very important. In today’s climate of high deductible insurance, more and more healthcare consumers are shopping online before they sign up for services. Did you know 90 percent of patients are influenced in their decision whether or not to make an appointment by positive online reviews? However, only 13 percent of medical clinics have a strategy for increasing their reputation in the online marketplace. That’s a large number of facilities that are leaving their clinic’s reputation to chance. If your clinic is one of them, you can change that by making a strategic plan to generate positive online reviews—and establish your clinic’s reputation as a sought-after facility, in just 4 basic steps.

Online Reputation Step #1 – Set up your online profiles

First and foremost, give patients a platform to review your therapy clinic. One of the most important places to build a profile for online traffic is Google+. Simply claim your Google+ account and customize it with up-to-date, accurate business information. Google will connect reviews about your company to key word and map searches for rehabilitation services in your area. Your google + profile includes:

  • Your clinic’s exact name
  • Facility address
  • Main phone number and clinic hours
  • A brief description of your clinic’s mission, vision, and values (share your “elevator speech”!)
  • Your key search words (for example, “Buffalo, NY physical therapy”)

If you choose to set up multiple online profiles (on other popular sites, such as Yelp, Foursquare, CitySearch, or Yellow Pages), be sure you list your clinic’s information exactly the same in each profile. This helps build your brand consistency and makes your clinic easier to find online. You should also create a place for patient to read reviews and testimonials on your company website.

Online Reputation Step #2 – Delight Your Customers

Most clinics create happy customers just by doing their job – helping people regain function and mobility is a very rewarding outcome. However, when a clinic goes above and beyond normal expectations, they create customer delight!  Delight is often created by small acts of kindness – a cup of gourmet coffee, a warm welcome, extra time spent communicating with an insurance company, a courtesy call to find out why a patient missed an appointment. The key to positive reviews is to ensure that any patient who sets foot inside your clinic has an exceptional experience.

Listening is an important component in delighting customers. Surveying customers enables rehab directors to understand what kind of behaviors are expected as normal service, and what kinds of “perks” are viewed as exceptional customer service.  Involve your staffing team in helping to improve your clinic’s customer service. They will have great insights into their patient’s frustrations with visiting your clinic. In addition, reading a book together such as, If Disney Ran Your Hospital by Fred Lee, will generate a host of suggestions about how to improve your patient’s perceptions of your facility. Or, if you don’t have time for a book, check out this article by Chad Madden at Breakthrough PT Marketing for 3 tips on creating a “5 star Disney-like experience” for your physical therapy patients.

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Online Reputation Step #3 – Make it easy for patients to share positive reviews

You can begin to establish a library of positive reviews simply by asking patients to review your clinic. For example, when a patient is being discharged and has had a positive experience, a therapist could say, “I’m so glad you’re pleased. It would mean so much to me if you would share your kind words on our Google+ page.” You can also contact patients by email, requesting an online review, or send them a short survey to complete. In addition, You can manage automated surveys of your patients using a web based platform, such as Survey Monkey or Wufoo. Then, you can post your survey results to the testimonial section of your company’s website.

Online Reputation Step #4 – Respond to negative reviews

Unfortunately, promoting your online profiles may also give unhappy patients a platform for sharing their criticism of your services. Instead of hiding your head in the sand and avoiding these encounters, proactively expect them and be prepared to respond with explanations. Your calm, cool responses to an unhappy patient speak volumes and will help you win over all those who read the negative review. A problem solved may become the most effective review you have.

You can also respond to the review and ask the user to contact you offline. If the negative review is true, your clinic can attempt to turn that negative review into a future win and learn if there are improvements that need to be made internally. In addition, every online review site has a process to handle outrageous or untrue reviews. Making an appeal to the site where the inaccurate review is hosted may end up in removal or discipline of the offending party.

Additional Resources and Role Models

Therapydia, a national network of Physical Therapy Clinics, obviously has a strategy for generating online referrals. On the front of their website is a graphic touting dedication to patient satisfaction, with more than 1,500 reviews leading to 4.9 out of a possible 5 starts. The company maintains an attractive, modern and easy-to-navigate website that features a live feed of patient reviews on a clearly labeled “Reviews” tab. This layout allows potential patients to quickly and easily view the opinions of previous patients.

Managing this level of online marketing presence is a full time job, which is why small clinics often join up with larger networks, such as Therapydia, which provide marketing support specifically designed for Physical Therapy. Vantage Clinical Solutions and Breakthrough PT Marketing also specialize in marketing services for Rehabilitation Clinics.

What did we miss?

As your new strategic plan for promoting your reputation online begins to generate new leads and referrals, you may also need to boost your staff on hand. That’s where PT Solutions can help. As a niche-staffing agency, owned and managed by physical therapists, we specialize in helping therapists find great jobs.

If you have other suggestions for making the most of online reviews and referrals, we’d love to hear from you. Please add your input in the comment section below!

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