Online reviews are the first thing many consumers check when deciding to do business with a company – and when deciding on a new physician. For direct primary care (DPC) practices, positive online reviews can actually help educate potential patients on the practice structure and encourage new patients to call for an appointment. In fact, the online review site Yelp says that “84% of consumers turn to review sites to find a doctor.”
Should your DPC practice establish an online presence on review sites such as Yelp? With that many potential patients turning to these sites for research when looking for a new doctor, it is undoubtedly a good place to be when you get positive reviews. Online review sites appropriate for DPC practices include Yelp as well as Healthgrades, RateMDs, and WebMD.
Care should be taken when you list your DPC practice on these sites, however, to ensure that your practice information is accurate and current. Most review sites encourage doctors to post a profile photo and to give potential patients sufficient details about the practice so they can make an educated decision.
Patient reviews are the new, virtual word-of-mouth advertising that may result from having a presence on these sites. Encourage your current patients to post reviews and respond quickly and appropriately to messages on the sites. Consider your responses carefully and be sure they are generic enough to avoid conflicting with HIPAA privacy regulations.
When a patient posts a review mentioning a specific visit or asking a question about a particular health concern, for example, your response should always be general in nature. You should thank the reviewer for commenting and then respond in a manner that does not confirm the reviewer as a patient or provide any suggestions for treatment or diagnoses. Just because the reviewer may have posted personal information it does not give you, as the healthcare provider, the right to violate his or her privacy!