Healthcare News & Insights

More patients looking for health care online: Boost your digital presence

Patients are increasingly looking for health care online, so ensuring your organization’s internet presence remains top-notch is more important than ever. For many healthcare consumers, a hospital’s online presence is the first impression they get of your facility – so you need to make it a good one.

More and more patients are researching providers using the internet, according to a new study from Kyruus, a provider-patient matching service. Over half of patients surveyed (53%) used online research to select a new healthcare provider.

While most patients still prefer to book appointments over the phone, and many appreciate referrals from current providers, the increase in digital research signals a changing tide.

Patients want to be able to check out their providers and hospitals before visiting for the first time, and improving your facility’s digital footprint can ensure patients choose you over your competitors.

Just sprucing up your hospital’s website shouldn’t be the only step your organization takes to fine-tune its web presence. The Kyruus study showed patients don’t usually begin their research directly on the hospital’s website – they do a general search first, which means online reviews and social media matter.

Addressing online reviews

You can’t change your hospital’s reviews: There will always be unhappy patients, and usually those patients are the most vocal. You can, however, adapt your strategy for dealing with negative reviews.

Here are four strategies for approaching negative reviews:

  • Keep responses simple. If you’re publicly replying to the review, give a brief response with your facility’s general protocol for similar situations or conditions, avoiding specifics.
  • Apologize if necessary. Providers and staff sometimes do make mistakes. A sincere public apology may be your best move if there’s proof of the mistake. Own up to the error, and let the patient and the public know how the problem will be prevented in the future.
  • Respond privately. Instead of hitting the reply button, it may be better to contact the person directly, if possible. A private reply should be understanding and sympathetic without being defensive. Allowing the person to talk about the issue could help soothe hurt feelings.
  • Let other patients speak for you. Staying silent might be the best bet, especially if the review creates a “he said, she said” situation. Often, satisfied patients will speak up on a doctor’s or hospital’s behalf to disagree with negative reviews, and their positive feedback may be better than any words you could say in your defense.

Social media tactics

Since patients are looking everywhere for information about your hospital, paying attention to your social media strategies is another key step for improving your organization’s online impression.

Social media gives your hospital the opportunity to interact with current patients and entice new ones, so use it appropriately and intentionally. For example, your organization’s accounts could:

  • provide general info about health care and common conditions, like letting patients know about open enrollment for health insurance or when they can come in for flu shots
  • encourage patients to share feedback and thoughts, and
  • connect patients with healthcare treatments and services.

By investigating and improving your hospital’s digital presence beyond your website, you’re ensuring your organization makes an even better first impression on new and old patients alike.

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