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Slowly, but surely: doctors’ online reputations affect patient choice and hospital activity

August 8, 2012

The details below come from studies in the US, showing how – slowly, but surely – online user reviews (in this case of doctors) are having the same impact in healthcare that they have had on so many other sectors.

Whilst there are of course different dynamics in the UK, doctors here who are already  using iWantGreatCare to help inform patient choice have seen a similar impact on their referral numbers, and I am sure we will see exactly the same impact in dentistry, physiotherapy etc.

What does this mean for private hospital groups, health insurers and those NHS hospitals beginning to feel the impact of competition and patient choice?

 

Dr. Sikorski from Healthcare Marketing Center unveiled their latest 12 case studies about what impact Doctors’ Reputations have on the success of practices, hospitals, and ambulatory surgery centers. Here are some compelling statistics

1) 100% of patients “Googled” doctors when seeking elective fee-for-service procedures, even if referred by a PCP or specialist. Patient Satisfaction Surveys and Verified Patient Reviews of Doctors were the most sought-after pieces of information before scheduling appointments.

2) 80% of  doctors at 3 hospitals (250 doctors total) have never Googled their names. 20% of the 250 had truly bad reviews, most of them outdated by at least 6 months.

3) Another Nationally Recognized Hospital had 40% of their on-staff doctors publicly reviewed on Doctor-Review sites as below national average for patient satisfaction. Most of the surveys were from 2008 – 4 years ago, yet the moment this was rectified case volume increased by ~20%  without any advertising dollars.

4) Advertising costs decreased by average of 50% while case volumes increased by average of 120% every time the doctors were featured and not the hospital/practice brand

5) One Ambulatory Surgery Center used iPad/Cloud technology to publish 22 reviews for the doctors with bad reputations resulting in 33 new out-of-network appointments. Because they were asking all patients at follow up to use the technology they were able to capture 3 very bad complaints that were rectified.

When will the time come where the rest of the U.S. hospitals and practices will start featuring their doctors as their brand? When will marketers realize that people want to connect with real-life doctors, not just a brand?

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