Online Patient Reviews: Embracing Them

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Online Patient Reviews: Embracing Them
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Online patient reviews: ZocDoc, Yelp and now Practice Fusion. Why should physicians embrace online patient reviews? Online reviews have a significant impact on Over the past couple of years, there has been enough hu la la over patient reviews published over the internet. There have been speculations about fake patient reviews on ZocDoc, there have been allegations against Yelp, and now Practice Fusion has been charged with soliciting reviews from patients and posting them online - without concealing personal identification information. In fact, in Practice Fusion’s case, the patients in question were unaware their information would be disseminated online.

Have Online Directories Made Patient Reviews A Big Deal?

Practice Fusion is now prohibited from commercially exploiting or publicizing review information. Many things have been written about patient reviews all over the internet. Public patient reviews is one gray area where there has been always a big question mark.

For what has become one of the essential part of consumer trust in the internet era, patient reviews and their reliability have been a dangling issue that no company has resolved gracefully. On one side, online scheduling and classified businesses have made patient reviews a big part of their pitch to doctors and promise them more patient volume corresponding to more positive patient reviews published online, and on the other side, physicians’ with their little expertise in online reputation management and desire to build strong online presence have accepted just about any vendor or service that reached out to them first.

In fact, companies such as DoctorBase realized the value of online presence for doctors so big that they pivoted their business model from just being a practice communication tool to a practice marketing platform a lot earlier in their growth stage. And it seems, it really worked out for them as they were acquired by Kareo.

How Important Are Patient Reviews?

Clearly, it is big selling point for physicians to use patient review services. However, the question is - how big is patient reviews’ impact on consumer’s decision making of which physician to visit?

This study revealed that nearly three-quarters of patients use online reviews as their first step in finding a new doctor, which is a huge number. This explains why patient reviews are such a big deal for physicians. However, the problem arises when amidst the competitive online scheduling and classified markets, vendors promise a lot more than they can deliver to physicians in order to make a sale, and this gives birth to unethical publishing of patient reviews a.k.a. fake or unauthorized patient reviews. Catch-22.

Be Careful About Patient Reviews

Now the question is - is there a solution to this problem? Maybe yes, may be no, I don’t you yet. However, for now, it is wise to say that both vendors and physicians should remain completely ethical while collecting or publishing patient reviews. At the end of the day, you can’t go wrong, if you are doing something right.

As a physician, it is really important that you are completely aware of the methods adopted by your third party vendors to publish patient reviews online. May be also have vendors include clear guidelines about publishing patient reviews in order to cover the legal grounds. Last thing you want is to lose the trust of your patients, therefore, please do take this extra mile.

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Simon Lorenz, Ph.D., Co-Founder, Klara

Coming from a family of doctors, Simon was destined to become a doctor too but became intrigued instead by the business and services side of healthcare. He decided to join one of the leading management consulting companies in Germany, working to improve efficiency and performance in healthcare as well as in other industries. In parallel, he wrote his Ph.D. thesis on performance optimization in hospitals, which was later published as a book. In 2013, he and Simon Bolz founded Klara with the mission to transform communication in healthcare, so every patient can receive great care.

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