Developing trust with patients begins online before they come into your office. According to Google’s digital wellness study, 77% of patients conduct an online search before booking an appointment, 50% of patients recommend doctors, and 18% post online reviews of health clinics. If your existing patients view you as a reliable and principled doctor, they’ll tell others either through in-person or digital word-of-mouth.
Creating a trustworthy practice involves caring for your patients, communicating with them effectively and ensuring you remain up to date on the latest in medical research, but your web presence and response to online reviews can also go a long way in building patient loyalty. Here are some things to keep in mind when developing positive relationships with patients.
Encourage Patient Referrals
Half of patients surveyed by Google recommended family, friends, and colleagues contact the same facility. By getting a referral, the new patient already has a basis for trust with you. Encourage referrals by listening to your existing patients’ concerns and showing commitment to helping them. Don’t rush through appointments. If your patients feel heard, they’ll be more likely to refer you to people they know.
Once they’re ready to share their experience with friends and family, ensure you’ve made it easy for them by having active, up-to-date social media channels like Facebook and Twitter. Check these regularly and if you see a positive recommendation made, be sure to thank your patient promptly. Set up digital dashboard to keep track of social media mentions and reviews online; consolidating them in one place will ensure nothing gets missed.
Pay Attention to Online Reviews
Online reviews can help you determine weaknesses in your practice. Maybe patients like your clinic but get annoyed that you constantly run late. Could you implement new scheduling practices to address that? Maybe you’re thinking of booking more appointments in a day but online reviewers say they like that you spend so much time with them. Don’t get bogged down in details about reviews—sometimes the patient is just having a bad day and needs to vent—but take constructive criticism and implement feasible changes.
If you’re not comfortable reading reviews, assign the job to someone in your office. They can periodically check how your clinic is doing and respond to reviews where necessary (keeping confidentiality in mind, of course.)
Provide Clear Descriptions on Your Website
Going to the doctor can be nerve-wracking enough, and adding uncertainty to the mix can make patients feel even more anxious. On your website, provide necessary details: what services you offer, what your patients can expect at an appointment, and what they should do before they come in—should they arrive early? Bring certain documentation? This information will ease your patients’ minds and let them focus on their health.
Building a practice your patients trust is vital to ensuring they come back, and that they refer you to others. By taking the time to listen to patients and the people who review your clinic, you can guarantee long-term success for your practice.
Alex is the VP of Marketing at Connectivity