Healthcare Reputation Management: 5 Tips for Facilities

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Written by Diana Campion, MSN, APRN, ANP-C Education Development Nurse, Content Writer, IntelyCare
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Reviewed by Katherine Zheng, PhD, BSN Content Writer, IntelyCare
A nurse takes notes as she talks with an elderly couple at an assisted living facility.

Healthcare reputation management is essential to local businesses and large corporations within the healthcare industry. An astounding 93% of internet users report that online reviews impact their consumer choices, whether it’s related to healthcare or any other category of goods and services. The potential costs to your facility of not having a strategic approach to managing online feedback is a loss of business and damage to your hard-earned reputation.

This begs the question: Are you managing your online reviews, or are they managing you? Implementing a process to manage online reviews helps your business and allows you to monitor customer comments, respond to feedback, report fake reviews, and address complaints. In this article, we’ll ease your burden by providing valuable tips on improving your healthcare online reputation management strategy.

Why Healthcare Reputation Management Matters

The way healthcare consumers decide where to get care is changing. Technology allows people to have more control over where and when they get seen — and access information to guide life-changing decisions. Will they undergo surgery at your outpatient center or choose your competitor down the road? Which assisted living facility will they determine is the best fit for Mom?

Health consumers are turning to their peers for answers, eliciting the support of online reviews to choose where to go. In fact, 72% of health consumers read online ratings and reviews when choosing a healthcare provider. They’re studying what others have to say about their personal experiences, good or bad.

So, if your healthcare organization still relies on word-of-mouth marketing to attract brand-loyal patients and employees, it’s time to update your strategy. In the digital age, it’s essential to follow the best practices of online reputation management to stay ahead of your competition.

Things to Avoid When Managing Online Reviews

Everyone has a unique healthcare experience — and it goes without saying that there will be times when someone has a negative impression of your facility. Be mindful that patients, families, and visitors are in vulnerable positions, and writing a review may be their only way of gaining a sense of control over their situations.

When done correctly, even in an industry as unique as healthcare, online reputation management can improve business by allowing patients or residents to feel heard and valued. But when they’re mishandled, negative reviews can compromise your healthcare organization’s reputation. Avoid these potentially harmful mistakes when monitoring reviews:

  • Deleting negative reviews. This can make it look like your healthcare facility has something to hide. Instead of deleting them, respond in a courteous and professional manner to address any issues that were raised in the review.
  • Responding to online reviews in a negative tone. This can lead to an online argument that can further damage your reputation. Take a diplomatic approach and apologize for any issues the patient may have experienced.
  • Ignoring positive reviews. A positive review should get a response just as quickly as a negative one, as this shows patients that you value their feedback and appreciate their choosing your healthcare facility. Thank them for their kind words and let them know you’re grateful for their support.

Tips for Healthcare Reputation Management in Healthcare

The way you manage reviews is a reflection of the business as a whole and can affect the public’s perception of interpersonal interactions at your healthcare facility. User-generated content, or information from unpaid contributors to your site, can be leveraged to improve your image — even if it includes negative reviews. Use this to your advantage to showcase your company’s professionalism and commitment to service.

1. Learn the Benefits of Patient Reviews

Understanding the benefits of online reviews provides insight into what a great asset they are to your facility when leveraged appropriately. In addition, you can share these benefits with senior leadership to enlist their support for any additional staff hours or costs required to implement your strategy. Customers use online reviews to get information that other sources, like CMS reports, can’t provide, including resident and patient opinions and perspectives.

The benefits of managing online reviews include:

  • Raising your resident and patient satisfaction ratings and, in turn, your facility’s reputation, by addressing issues and concerns.
  • Increasing Medicare reimbursement to your residence as a direct result of higher patient satisfaction scores.
  • Building trusting relationships with residents, patients, and their families.
  • Offering the highest level of care by adapting to the needs and trends identified through the reviews.

2. Respond to Patients’ Concerns

Potential clients and their families judge how engaged and invested your facility is in your current patients or long-term care residents by seeing whether you reply to reviews and how well you address issues and concerns. Readers trust online reviews as an attestation to your facility’s credibility and reputation. Not responding to reviews, particularly the negative ones, is a response in and of itself.

The following table outlines some practical guidance from Google on how online healthcare reputation management can protect your business and attract prospective patients.

Tips For Managing Different Types of Reviews

Positive Reviews Negative Reviews Fake/Inappropriate Reviews
Respond to residents, patients, or their families with a simple and genuine thank you.

Consider sharing relevant updates about your facility, but avoid making this sound like a sales pitch.

Respond promptly.

Stay professional and polite.

Understand their experiences to improve your business.

Apologize when appropriate.

Offer to talk it over if they have a complaint.

Sign your name or initials to the review response to show you’re authentic.

Recognize the possibility that you will receive a review that is fake or contains illegal/offensive content.

Take these reviews seriously as they can harm your hard-earned reputation.

Flag the review so the online platform can investigate for violations against their policy and remove it.

To get a better idea of how to apply these tips in practice, we can take a look at some examples of how to respond to online reviews below. Here are sample responses to both a positive and negative review.

Example 1: Response to a Positive Review

Thank you for sharing your mom’s experience at Sunnyside Assisted Living. We are so happy to have her here and sincerely appreciate you taking the time to write a review. We will be sure to let Miss Rose know that she brightened your mom’s day by taking her out to the Peaceful Garden to listen to the birds!

Example 2: Response to a Negative Review

Ms. Doe, thank you for bringing this to our attention. We understand that ongoing construction can cause a disruption to your family member’s daily life and apologize for the noise. We are making every effort to update the facilities to provide our residents with the modern amenities that will improve their living situation. Please call at your convenience so I can learn about ways to resolve this matter for you. – Florence (Nursing Administrator)

3. Prioritize Your Responses

Your time is valuable. Part of an efficient strategy for healthcare reputation management is prioritizing your responses based on where reviews are posted. They’ll have their choice among many review platforms, but there are clear favorites. Collectively, three sites have amassed 82% of online reviews:

  • Google Business Profile (73%): As the platform that three out of four customers use to check reviews, Google can make or break your standing among your healthcare competitors.
  • Yelp (6%): Besides providing customer reviews on nursing facilities, Yelp has teamed up with ProPublica to provide key information based on federal data, such as the number of beds, fines, and serious deficiencies.
  • Facebook (3%): People regularly check Facebook reviews due to convenience since they’re already on the social media platform. The reader also has the benefit of being able to directly message the review writer for additional information.
  • While not among the most popular, this website is worth an honorable mention. They’re gaining recognition for the integrity of their resident nursing home reviews as a senior care expert reads every submission before publication.

4. Showcase Glowing Patient Reviews

Happy residents, patients, and families are a testament to a wonderful facility. An impressive 74% of consumers will trust a business more if they have positive reviews. Showcasing positive reviews is an intelligent, cost-effective approach to bolstering your reputation and marketing your facility.

To do this:

  • Ensure your facility webpage makes a great first impression.
  • Selectively choose and spotlight positive reviews on your website.
  • Place them strategically — i.e., near your blogs or press releases — to increase engagement.
  • Provide Google, Yelp, Facebook, etc. links on your homepage to make viewing and submitting reviews easier.
  • Email clients and their families to ask for their review and provide the link. It’s a natural prompt for those with a positive experience to respond.

5. Invest in a System to Manage Online Reviews

Your facility may feel confident with the basics of online healthcare reputation management, or they may wish to enlist help. There’s a wide selection of ratings and reviews software companies that specialize in customer online feedback, including reviews for facilities. Companies such as BrightLocal, Birdseye, RepuGen, etc., have options with a healthcare focus.

Depending on the company and the package option you choose, services can include:

  • Sending automated personalized feedback requests to clients.
  • Consolidating all your reviews across the web into one dashboard.
  • Promoting positive testimonials.
  • Sending email notifications of negative resident or patient reviews.

Are You Striving for 5-Star Online Reviews?

Healthcare reputation management can boost your online ratings, along with a properly designed website and other marketing tips. Learn more about managing your facility’s image, in addition to the latest free news and industry insights, today.

IntelyCare content editor Steve Tanner contributed to the writing and research for this article.

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