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Why Health Systems Need to Make Findability Part of Reputation Management

What does a healthcare provider’s findability online have to do with your reputation online? Plenty. In fact, your visibility across the web and your reputation are intertwined — which is why providers need to manage online location and physician information as part of their reputation management strategy.

This was a theme of a recent eHealthcare Strategy and Trends webinar I participated in, “Online Reputation Management: It’s More Than Ratings and Reviews.” During the webinar, I discussed a holistic approach to reputation management that connects search, conversion and customer experience management. Let’s take a look at the importance of search and your reputation.

Understanding the Digital Landscape

There is a lot of confusion about what reputation management actually is and why managing your location and physician data is important. Put another way, why is your Google My Business listing an important element of reputation management? It’s helpful to understand the digital landscape to know the answer.

Patient experience begins before your customer walks in the door. This is not a new concept, but it’s becoming more important in the digital world. Consumers typically find your locations and physicians through online search results, and they expect the same experience with you as they do with Amazon. That first impression of your location or one of your doctors has an impact on their decision to become your patient. For instance, is the location easily searchable? Is the information (phone number and address, etc.) correct? And are the associated star ratings from patients favorable?

Understanding Findability Online

How do you create a positive experience at the beginning of their journey to make sure consumers convert down the road?

First, consider how they find you:

  • 80% go online first to research healthcare. They’re looking for care and forming opinions of what they see.
  • 90% of health-related searches are non-branded, meaning they are not looking for a provider by name.
  • 63% of these searchers are choosing providers based on the provider’s proximity to their home or office. The popularity of near me searches underscores the importance of a local search strategy.

People are looking for providers in a similar way that they find a coffee shop nearby, which means that the quality and accuracy of the data you provide online is crucial.

Now consider where consumers are looking. This data I presented during the webinar is telling:

As you can see, Google is easily the most popular place people go to find healthcare information. And Google’s dominance is growing. In addition, your website (not necessarily your home page), Apple, Facebook and Bing round out the top five sites. It’s important to note that the top five sites account for 89% of all sites used to find healthcare information – and patient ratings and reviews figure prominently in all these websites:

No matter where a person looks for a provider or location, they find ratings and reviews – on Google or Apple Maps, Google near-me searches, social media and on voice search. And these ratings and reviews influence behavior. In fact, we did a recent study that showed:

  • 82% of consumers had read online reviews to evaluate a provider.
  • 80% said that ratings/reviewing influence their choice of a provider.
  • 68% chose one provider over another based on ratings and reviews.

In this context, your ability to rank relies not only on complete and accurate information that you provide to a search engine, but also on the sentiment, volume and recency of reviews that are associated with your location and your provider.

In fact, the authoritative 2018 Moz Local Search Ranking Factors report says that customer ratings and reviews are becoming more important as a ranking signal for any business. As my colleague Adam Dorfman pointed out, ratings and reviews have increased in importance by 17% year over year and by 43% over the past three years. This is another example (and a big one) of how reputation management and findability are intertwined.

The Moz data really hammers home why you need a reputation management strategy that combines data accuracy of your physicians and locations, your listings, and your ratings and reviews in context of a larger reputation management strategy. That approach encompasses optimizing search, acquiring customers and improving the experience, as depicted here:

  • Optimize Search: How are you optimizing search to attract patients? How does a customer find you? This is a complex issue. The data feeding physician profiles comes from many disparate sources. Plus doctors don’t work out of one location, nor do they keep the same hours in each one. Just keeping provider information accurate and timely is challenging enough.
  • Acquire Customers: How do you attract patients and convert them? If a patient finds you online, what makes them choose you over competition? Here is where having a system in place to manage both reviews and social sentiment comes into play. Combining search optimization with review and social sentiment is where conversion occurs. The two are strongly related.
  • Improve the Experience: How do you use data to improve the experience? Organizations that do this well look at online reviews, social sentiment and patient satisfaction surveys to create a 360-degree view of patient experience. Solicited information plus unstructured, organic text that people leave on social media answers questions you didn’t even know you needed to ask.

I view these elements as a virtuous cycle. Reviews and survey data improve the experience, which is reflected in star ratings and improves your search ranking, which improves your conversion rate. You need all these elements to work together as part of reputation management – and being found is where the virtuous cycle starts.

Case in Point

Reputation.com gives healthcare systems a central dashboard to manage their reputations, ranging from gathering reviews to publishing content. One national network of providers worked with Reputation.com on HIPAA-compliant review management for more than 400 locations. The client’s average number of monthly positive reviews increased by a 438 percent! They also gained greater search visibility in local markets and improved patient loyalty.

I covered a lot more ground during the webinar, and Amanda Henson, Director of Online Reputation Management from Kindred Healthcare, took a deep dive into Kindred Healthcare’s  reputation management strategy. To listen to the entire webinar, check out this link.

Gain control and shape your online reputation effectively in 2019 and beyond by downloading our free 5-Step Guide to Improving Your Online Reputation.


Topic: Through Leadership
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