Online reviews and ratings is a feature most commonly associated with retail shopping and entertainment such as movies and music. However, reviews and ratings have quickly expanded to become a foundational feature of the web. They are now as important to the healthcare sector as they are to every other industry.

Patients depend on reviews

Online reviews play a massive part in any consumer’s decision-making. Research conducted by NRC Health found that 92.4% of consumers use online reviews to guide most of their ordinary purchasing decisions. This astronomical number points to an aspect of marketing that every consumer values now: transparency.

By pushing customer reviews and comments, potential new customers get anecdotal evidence of the quality of a brand or service. Consumers naturally find this type of content far more transparent than marketing content directly from the provider.

In fact, 34.7% of patients say that a Doctor or Medical Group’s online reputation is very important. This is a higher percentage than any other industry, with healthcare ranking higher than the food, hospitality, financial, automotive and travel sectors. 

In fact, the most searched for and desired feature on a hospital’s website is the reviews of other patients. 

Furthermore, 59.9% of patients say they have chosen a Doctor service based on the positive reviews they see online. On the other hand, 60.8% of patients say that they’ve avoided doctors based on negative reviews. No matter the slant of the online reviews, patients draw their conclusions from these recommendations. It is vital to push your patients and clients to endorse you online; they are better advocates for your service as they are independent and more trustworthy than the service provider themselves.

Whilst it is incorrect to say that patients rely entirely on online reviews to make their decision, it has been proven to be the first step for many patients. 27% of patients use online reviews as their first step in looking for a new Doctor’s service. Also, even when they have been recommended a healthcare service by a family member or friend, 20.8% of patients still use online reviews to verify what that friend or family member has told them.

Online reviews are trustworthy

Data from NRC Health also revealed that patients trust online ratings and reviews more than personal recommendations that reach them through word of mouth. 83.3% of patients said yes to trusting online ratings and reviews more than personal recommendations. 

What’s crazy is that today’s patients trust online reviews more than their own doctor. 47.5% of patients trust online ratings as much as a recommendation from their doctor (46.8%).

However, one must populate review boards with the right type of reviews, as well as keeping them refreshed. The date of a review is very important. If reviews are older than 18 months, 66.1% of healthcare consumers deem them out of date. Other consumers are tougher, with 19.8% drawing that line at 6 months. 

One must also understand the difference between standard reviews and verified reviews. Only 26.1% of patients say they trust reviews and ratings from consumers who leave reviews not tied to a verified purchase of goods or surface. The reviews that work are verified ones that are directly connected to a verified purchase. As a result, 51.2% of consumers prefer verified reviews rather than reviews that aren’t officially backed. 

How many reviews is enough?

Just because customers and patients are now turning to reviews to inform their decisions, one review is definitely not enough. A group of reviews is far more persuasive. Whilst research is still being conducted into the special number of reviews needed for each industry, NRC Health’s findings point to the sweet spot being seven reviews for the healthcare industry.

74.7% of patients want to see at least seven ratings before they trust that service with their commerce. Furthermore, 77.6% of patients say that of the reviews they see, seven comments need to be saying the same thing before they accept this as a trend and endorsement of the service. 

In Conclusion

Providing your potential consumers with transparent online reviews will give them an insight into pricing, quality of service and anecdotal experience all in one go. Online reviews are the first steps for a consumer in the modern age and the healthcare industry is no different.