How 5-star reviews generated over $225,000 in revenue for my practice

I’ll cut straight to the point: Collecting 5-star Google and Yelp reviews straight out of fellowship generated over $225,000 in new revenue from online patient referrals.  And I have the data to prove it.

I joined my partner as a hand fellowship graduate four years ago. He already had a very busy practice with over 100 new patient visits a month, on average, and my arrival allowed him to cut down his hours by 20 percent.  However, a quick back-of-the-envelope calculation suggested that acquiring 20 percent of his existing practice in addition to some ER call was not going to fill my surgical schedule. So I took matters into my own hands.

I devised a unique system for automating the awkward process of soliciting patients’ reviews.  Anyone who has tried “asking” for Yelp reviews knows exactly what I’m talking about.  Although patients are often quite polite and enthusiastically agree to leave a review, they rarely follow through.

Within three months of implementing my new system, I gained reviews at a rate of 3 to 10 per month.  Not only that, but they were all 5-star reviews.  I focused on Google and Yelp and immediately noticed that my search rankings increased dramatically, with Google search results showing my practice website as the top result with the search phrase “best hand surgeon.”  This was better marketing than I could pay for, and it was completely free!  To see for yourself, Google my name.

With my natural affinity for numbers, I analyzed the reviews’ precise impact after a few years, and the results were astounding.  The system generated over $225,000 during a 3-year period.  My practice acquired 162 new 5-star reviews on Google, and my partner and I generated over 200 5-star reviews on Yelp.  I calculated that each 5-star review was “worth” over $900 to my practice in the form of new referrals, and the overall return on investment was 1,900 percent.  Needless to say, it was a huge success.

I obviously continue to collect these reviews, and my system has now been upgraded for COVID by functioning completely hands-free without any physician or assistant involvement. When I speak to friends and colleagues, I am continuously surprised at how many people entirely neglect their online reputation.  It turns out that physicians really don’t need to maintain a state-of-the-art website,  post blog articles, or promote themselves on social media. Rather, generating 5-star reviews is the lowest hanging fruit that will achieve 90 percent of the beneficial marketing effect.

As a final point, it’s worth noting that online reviews are a controversial topic among physicians.  There remains a spectrum of opinions and emotions regarding the appropriateness of “soliciting” online reviews from patients.  This article’s purpose was merely to report the measurable, objective results of implementing a protocol for soliciting reviews.  In future posts, I will address my rationale for embracing, and ultimately leveraging online ratings in my favor. And more importantly, why I think every physician should do the same.

Orrin Franko is an orthopedic surgeon and hand specialist.

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