Patients use Google for a doctor reference check

There are no longer any doubts if patients Google their doctors. Social media, your website, and Google are parts of virtually every patient’s search for a doctor. Google is a reference check and has become the most important tool to establish sufficient level of trust for an appointment to be scheduled.

I recently published 12 case studies where doctors’ reputations were improved with mobile technology and the impact they made on the goals of their practices. Here are the three most important pieces of information new patients are looking for that impact the success of your practice.

1. Your expertise. In every specialty with elective services, or when you’d like to get out-of-network or out-of-pocket patients, this is a requirement. If not prominently displayed people will go to another doctor. In areas like plastic surgery, dermatology, or orthopaedics, this very piece of information can save millions in advertising dollars.

2. Doctor review sites. One negative comment will certainly impact a patient’s trust in you, especially if it’s the only patient-review that is displayed on at least 30 different websites. Some doctor-review sites even display patient satisfaction levels, and it doesn’t matter if these reviews were posted 4 years ago, because all patients see is the % of satisfaction. This is the one piece of information that has been giving doctors trouble for a few years now, but with the newly available mobile technology you don’t have to be at the mercy of these review sites.

3. Patient satisfaction and customer service.  What if the same mobile technology that helps gather & publish verified patient reviews, can help improve patient satisfaction and customer service? What if every patient was given a chance to provide honest feedback and you’d be able to review each comment and address potential problems before they become disasters? What if this can seamlessly become part of the process of every patient visit without you or your staff spending any extra time on this process?

Google is the most over-looked form of social media. You’re either at its mercy or using it to become the most trusted and relevant source of medical information.

It’s time to get your reputations in order and realize what your patients are doing. Step 1, go Google your name!

Simon Sikorski is CEO, Healthcare Marketing Center of Excellence.

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  • Simon Sikorski MD

    One of the most revealing statistics in the case studies is how
    patients’ specific online behavior changed by 65% in less than one year – it was clear that a doctor’s website is just not enough anymore. Website visitors would go off-site to continue to try to find more information about the doctor. If we advertised for the doctors fee-for-service procedures, this behavior was approaching 100%.

    And for the doctors who don’t even have a website yet, I think this is a serious wake-up call.

    Now if only medical schools started teaching this stuff in their curricula…

  • Charles Malcomson

    I am curious as to what you mean when you mention new mobile technology in regard to review sites. Even with services that offer to collect and post reviews for Drs. I think the best, least “spammy” way is to ask your patients for a review and communicate how important that is to the office.

    • Simon Sikorski MD

      I tried posting a reply yesterday but the Disqus feature is buggy. The entire technology and system we developed was to prevent patients from having the need to go online to review doctors but rather do damage control / customer service before the patient leaves the office. It’s about asking for honest feedback about their experience. The tech is available on iPads/Tablets.

  • Janet Dilbeck

    “Doctor Review Sites” I know of at least one doctor who submitted his own GLOWING reviews using different ISPs, names etc.—– more than ten at the very least. Those ‘reviews’ remained on the site for months or more until someone finally reported it and most of them were removed. But not all.

    So be very careful.

  • Carol Levy

    I often go to Healthgrades to check out a doc. I feel it does give me some additional information although, yes yu never know who it was who posted and if they might have an axe to grind a reputation to polish.

    • Simon Sikorski MD

      Just be careful with Healthgrades as oftentimes the ratings are extremely outdated and are not representative of the doctors. As is the case with most physician ratings sites, base your opinions on more recent reviews and compare them to older ones. Look whether the doctor is taking the opportunity to improve patient satisfaction. I wish Healthgrades would post dates of the surveys. That would help make the distinction better.

      • Song Bac Toh

        If you have a chance to design a review or rating system, how would you want the reviews and timeliness weighted? We can display the dates of the surveys, but we still need a way to fold these into a summary view that may consist of say “up to 5 stars”.

        My team is working on a design of this feature right now. I would love to hear your thoughts.

  • Simon Sikorski MD

    You can also check out how one of our colleagues reputation looks like thanks to Healthgrades, Vitals, ZocDoc, and other ratings sites: It’s eye-opening at the very least. Would love your comments

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