Navigating The Patient Journey: How Online Listings & Reviews Influence Decisions
New Patients Are Looking For You Online
TV, radio, and newspaper ads were once enough to get new patients flowing through your healthcare practice’s door. However, some of these traditional marketing strategies are no longer the most affordable, efficient, or effective. As the healthcare industry continues to evolve, so do patient expectations regarding finding, trusting, and maintaining relationships with healthcare providers.
We know word-of-mouth will always be one of the best ways to gain new patients, and this is still true in today’s day and age, simply think of online listings and reviews as digital word-of-mouth referrals. Listings with consistent, accurate practice information enhance your discoverability and credibility while strengthening patients’ trust in you.
Top Online Platforms To Find A Healthcare Provider:
- Online Physician Directories
- Review Sites
- Search Engines
- Google Maps
- Mobile Applications
- Individual Practice Websites
1. Help Patients Find You
More often than not, patients will discover your practice on the internet. Nearly half of all patients ultimately select their provider based on information they find online. Why is that?
Most patients will find you through an online directory. You’ve likely used them to find local businesses near you on apps like Yelp or mapping applications like Google Maps. But did you know some directories cater to specific healthcare specialties?
Directories like WebMD Doctor Directory and ZocDoc are ideal for healthcare providers and are a great way to capture high-intent patients. Actively searching for providers online means patients are likely ready to book an appointment as soon as possible. Online directories make your practice more visible and put you at the top of search results, so those eager prospects can find you before they find your competitors.
2. Don’t Let Inaccurate Information Turn Patients Away
Your practice may appear on maps, apps, and other online directories (even if you didn’t create these listings yourself). Making sure each listing contains accurate data is incredibly important to a patient’s decision to choose you, so it’s vital to weed out listings with incorrect information.
Directory publishers combine web crawlers, user-submitted data, and business-submitted data with complex algorithms to determine what content to display online. However, these solutions can sometimes get the data wrong.
Consider the statistics:
- 68% of listings had a name-related error
- 48% of practices’ listings contained basic address errors that misdirected patients
- 29% of healthcare practices lacked accurate phone numbers
Avoid giving patients a negative experience before they even walk through your doors. In today’s age of instant gratification, patients need to be able to access your practice’s information easily. If patients find outdated or incorrect information, they’ll likely become confused and frustrated, which will lead them to choose someone else.
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3. Improve Your Ranking With Quality Listings
Search engines, like Google, use algorithms to determine the consistency of your practice’s information across the internet. Consistent data can help improve your ranking in search engine result pages (SERPs).
As technology advances, so does the way patients find a provider:
- 90% of U.S. smartphone users rely on their devices for location-based services, such as directions, reviews, or recommendations.
- Nearly 75% of people who own a voice-activated speaker, like Amazon Alexa, say the devices are part of their daily routine.4 Ensuring the accuracy of your practice’s information is especially crucial regarding these technologies since the speaker does not display information on a screen.
Quality listings with consistent, accurate information help your practice rank higher and appear more credible. On the other hand, those that have not maintained their online listings fall to the bottom of search results. Since less than 1% of people click past the first page of Google, low search rankings hurt your visibility, credibility, and, ultimately, your profitability.
4. The Dangers Of Duplicate Listings
Search engines rank practices with duplicate listings lower than those with one distinct listing per online directory. Why? Because multiple listings may signal that the practice listing is inaccurate, and therefore the practice seems less credible.
When web crawlers come across several versions of contact or location information, they cannot read the data as if it belongs to several unique practices and creates duplicate listings in response.
Duplicate listings can confuse your patients, and even positive reviews become scattered throughout those duplicate listings, further confusing web crawlers and potentially diminishing your online ranking. So, how can you prevent duplicate listings and disjointed reviews? Regularly verify and monitor your practice information and confirm it is consistent and correct across all online directories.
5. Boost Practice Credibility And Patient Confidence With Reviews
Online reviews are used for more than just choosing where to get a cup of coffee. 93% of consumers read reviews before making purchasing decisions, and healthcare is no exception. Online reviews have become an integral part of the patient journey.
Healthcare ranks as one of the top industries where reviews have the greatest influence on credibility. According to Forbes, 81% of patients rely on reviews to select a provider, and this reliance has nearly doubled since pre-pandemic days. It’s simple. Favorable reviews give prospective patients peace of mind and confidence in choosing your practice, while negative ones do the opposite.
Monitoring your online reputation can be time-consuming, but outsourcing your reputation management services to a third party, like Officite, may be the ideal solution for your practice.
As the digital world grows, so does the importance of maintaining your listings and reviews on Yelp, Google Maps, and wherever else you appear online. Your success, visibility, and patient base depend on the strength of your online presence and search ranking, built from credible, consistent practice information.
The first step to enhancing your digital reputation and patient reach is simple. There’s no need to get overwhelmed in figuring out where to start or who to hire. Use one affordable service for online reputation maintenance, SEO advantages, appointment scheduling, patient acquisition success management, and more.
Officite offers personalized solutions that can fit any specialty or practice size. In your free consultation, one of our digital marketing experts will walk you through your current search ranking and how to improve it. Together, you will develop a customized strategy to get more positive reviews, book more appointments, and appear the way you want to online.
Officite is a unique, all-in-one digital marketing service for medical practices. With industry-specific knowledge and digital marketing expertise, we help practices grow their patient base with powerful websites, social media & reputation management, search engine solutions, telemedicine, and patient education. Officite automates your practice’s time-heavy processes (i.e. appointment scheduling, patient forms, etc.), so you can save your team (and patients) more time.
Officite makes marketing your medical practice easier, more affordable, and more effective by offering all your digital marketing services under one roof. For more information, or to see a demo, visit officite.com.