June 13, 2016

Why Yelp Matters to Health Care Professionals

Check Our Your Yelp Reviews

Have you checked out your reviews on Yelp?

That’s right. The same site that allows individuals to post reviews of restaurants and beauty salons allows them to also post reviews of physicians.

Yes, we wonder if people truly can accurately evaluate the true quality of the medical services that they receive. But, like it or not, patients are sharing their opinions online — and you need to know what they're saying.

With 135 million unique monthly visitors and more than 71 million reviews, Yelp is the largest review site for local businesses. Approximately 72 percent of Yelp users are college educated and more than half (54 percent) have a household income of $75,000.

While you may view sites like Yelp as a simple trend, for millennials, these sites impact their everyday decisions – including where they get their health care. According to a 2015 report by Nuance, a leading provider of voice and language solutions for businesses and consumers, 54 percent of young millennials (aged 18 to 24) say they search online for health information and rely on online physician ratings before seeing a doctor.

So, take a look at Yelp and see if and/or how your patients have reviewed you. Keep the perspective that the information, like CG-CAHPS scores, can be used to advance learning and performance improvement. The reviews can you give you a snapshot of what you are doing well, along with areas that need improvement.

Haters gonna hate

If you see negative reviews of you and your practice on Yelp, don’t panic and don’t get defensive. Step away from the computer and take a few deep breaths if you need to.

While a negative review can sting, keep in mind that a polite and helpful response from you online can neutralize the negativity. Plus, it provides an opportunity to draw attention to your practice’s positive qualities.

For example, “I am sorry that you felt you did not receive adequate answers to your questions during your visit to our office. Texas Best Knees has been in operation for more than 20 years, and we are committed to meeting our patients’ needs, whether it’s an accurate diagnosis, successful treatment or answers to questions. We will be contacting you to schedule a time to discuss your questions more fully.”

If you can identify the unhappy reviewer, consider calling them to discuss their experience and how you could have better served them. Let them know you appreciate hearing their concerns as it will help you improve your practice. See if there is anything you can do at this point to better serve them.

Accentuate the positive

If you’d like to boost your positive reviews on Yelp, consider the following:

  • Make service excellence a top priority. Most negative reviews don’t focus on the actual care they received but rather on their service disappointments. Wait times, ease of scheduling, parking, time with the patient and staff attitudes have a major impact on a patient’s satisfaction. A mom who had to wait an hour in a crowded waiting room with a sick toddler will not likely focus their comments to friends and online on the fact that you prescribed accurate antibiotics that made their child better.
  • Create a simple flier, table tent or postcard reminding patients to “Check out our Facebook page and find us on Yelp. Leave us a comment to let us know how we are doing.”
  • If you have a patient who tells you how pleased they are with the care they have received, thank them and suggest they go to Facebook and Yelp and share their experience.

Positive or negative, online reviews give you data you can use to strengthen and improve your ability to deliver a positive experience to all of your patients.Free Checklist: How to Run an Inbound Marketing Campaign

Laura Johnson

Laura Johnson is a writer whose first paid gig was a story published in a Dennis the Menace comic book at age 11. Since then, she’s expanded her craft to include feature articles, blog posts and speeches, as well as writing copy for newsletters, annual reports, social media and media releases. She lives in Dallas with her teenager, sweet old dog and three surviving fish.