It can be difficult to determine the appropriate response when you are thanked publicly, especially in a forum that is tied directly to your organization’s lead generation efforts: specifically, third-party review sites such as Healthgrades or Vitals.
Simply saying “thank you” is not enough—the response you provide will be read countless times by people seeking a new doctor. In fact, a 2015 survey published by Software Advice discovered that 77 percent of respondents use physician ratings as their first step when looking for a new doctor. And 60 percent of respondents feel that it’s important for physicians to respond to reviews online.
Many healthcare systems have processes in place to respond to negative reviews, but don’t put as much thought into crafting responses to positive reviews. Use these guidelines for what to do—and what to avoid—to compose thoughtful, gracious, and conversion-driving responses next time one of your physicians receives a glowing review.
What to Do
Celebrate the wins! Too often, marketers must focus on what isn’t working and what can be improved. Receiving a glowing review is a win and should be celebrated! Contact the physician who received the review and let them know they are doing a wonderful job. If the review was detailed, indicate specifics that the patient mentioned that they appreciated.
Maintain patient anonymity: Although it may feel natural to get specific with your response, it’s illegal and unethical to make mention of any details that could be construed as protected health information (PHI). For example, if a patient mentions the uncanny skill of your endocrinologists, you might naturally want to wish them well on their diabetes management journey. However, that would be a PHI violation—you’ve mentioned the disease for which they were treated, regardless of how detailed their review was. Instead, choose a vaguer response: “We’re happy you chose our team to help support your health, and we look forward to your continued progress.”
Put some thought into the response: Say thank you for the review and for choosing your physician. Acknowledge any specific accolades the reviewer shared, such as appreciating the warmth of the reception team or the ease of the scheduling process. Then demonstrate your attentiveness to the patient’s health by offering a number or email address to connect with your team if they need anything in the future.
What to Avoid
Saccharin responses: “Thank you so much” is a lovely response, but don’t overdo it. State your gratitude and move to the next step in your response. Just as in a face-to-face conversation, being genuine is important if you want to foster a loyal relationship with the patient. Share your appreciation, but in reasonable, genuine doses.
Overly “markety” responses: Avoid using buzzwords that patients don’t care about or understand. For example, if the patient mentions appreciating the chance to see several specialists, avoid responding with, “Thank you for mentioning our multidisciplinary team.” Instead, respond along the lines of, “We’re here to make sure you see the right doctors who can help you.”
Direct requests for more business: Though you want to maintain a relationship with patients, it’s not appropriate to give a “hope to see you again soon” response like it can be in retail. You want patients to get better—not have to come see you regularly! Instead, take a more positive approach. Offer contact information in case they have questions, and provide a link to the services page of your website to demonstrate your areas of expertise if the need for further care arises.
Kevin Pho, M.D., also known as social media thought leader Kevin MD, described the increasing importance of digital reputation in an article published by the National CPR Association: “The biggest mistake physicians can make is ignoring their online reputation, or downplaying its relevance… Physicians need to take proactive steps to establish and manage their online reputation. Soon, it will be as important as their reputation in the community.”
Responding to positive reviews is just as important as responding to negative reviews. And doing so gives you the opportunity to showcase your customer service skills, attentiveness to patients, and additional care opportunities in a patient-friendly way. As you implement your online physician reputation monitoring program, make sure crafting genuine, appropriate responses to online physician ratings is part of your strategy.