Maybe it’s because I’m in “the business” (probably), but just about any time I speak with a spine surgeon or any other physician for that matter, I always bring up patient reviews and star ratings. Are you being proactive regarding your online reputation (the short version)? Even many practices spend ample time getting all they can out of their online reputation, seems there has been a pretty significant push the past few years for capturing reviews and star ratings for medical professionals. It’s no wonder considering just about everyone looks at reviews for just about everything.

There are several different platforms out there that can help a spine practice automate review and rating capture and through my work I have found that most of them offer an efficient method for communicating to and receiving feedback from patients after their visit.

Some of my favorite features include:

1. Integrating review platforms with EMR and other clinical systems

This feature is a must for any spine practice that sees a significant number of patients on a consistent basis. By integrating a review platform with your EMR system review requests can go directly out to patients by text or email at a set interval after their appointment has passed.  Without this feature you may as well manually send an email to each patient after their visit. Or like some practices, do nothing at all.

2. Patient Review and Rating Request Email Templates

Having a pre-made email where you can automatically merge patient information from your clinical system, such as the patient’s name and reason for coming to see you, allows you to personalize each patient review request. Everyone knows that personalization increases response rates.

For example a non-personalized email might read:

“Dear Patient, thank you for visiting our practice today. We are always trying to improve and would love your feedback. Please take a moment to let us know about your experience. Click here to leave a review on Healthgrades.

Thank you!”

A personalized email sent to a patient might go something like this:

“Dear Kimberly, Thank you for choosing Laser Spine Orthopaedics & Surgery for your MRI review. I hope that I have addressed all of your concerns today. Please take a moment to leave me a review on Healthgrades. I look forward to serving you in the future!

Thank you,

Dr. Smith”

So by integrating your patient review and rating platform into your EMR and using email templates you can personalize automated messages to patients. Now sit back and watch the reviews and ratings come in.

3. Reporting on Patient Reviews and Ratings by Provider

This feature is extremely valuable for holding providers accountable for how they interact with patients. Regularly reviewing reports with your providers also creates healthy competition among your team. How better to create a great environment for your patients?

Some of the reports I’ve seen provided by review platforms (such as the one above)  include KPIs for:

  1. The number of requests to patients sent
  2. Request email open rates (percentage of emails opened)
  3. Reviews received by provider
  4. Net Promoter Score (NPS)

“The Net Promoter Score is an index ranging from -100 to 100 that measures the willingness of customers to recommend a company’s products or services to others. It is used as a proxy for gauging the customer’s overall satisfaction with a company’s product or service and the customer’s loyalty to the brand” (source

Reports like this provide you with a holistic look at all your provider ratings all in one place. You can quickly see where you need work and where you are winning.

What review sites should doctors focus on?

This is probably one of the most common questions asked by anyone in the medical field who is focusing on patient reviews and ratings.

If you ask any doctor they will probably tell you Healthgrades, but in a study performed in 2014 by (see charts below) the researchers found that Yelp was actually the most used site (2014) for physician reviews, followed by healthgrades and ratemds. I’m curious why they didn’t include Google reviews?

Yelp and Healthgrades Are Most Trusted Reviews Sites

Survey: Yelp Most Popular Site for Online Physician Reviews

One of the most surprising stats is how often patients use reviews before seeing a doctor and this number is supposed to increase!

When Patients Use Online Reviews Sites

When Patients Use Online Reviews Sites

Good reviews can persuade a patient to go out of network 47% of the time

Willingness to Go Out-of-Network for
Doctor With Better Reviews

Willingness to Go Out-of-Network for Doctor With Better Reviews
Now that we’ve talked a little bit about system features and the importance of getting good reviews I want to give away a secret to getting rating stars next to your brand in organic search results.

Making the most of star ratings

Have you ever performed a Google search for something and noticed star ratings next to the result? A search result showing a 4 or 5 star rating is definitely going to get more clicks than its competitor without any stars (see below). Although Google isn’t releasing information about their search algorithm, surprise, surprise, many SEO experts agree that more clicks equates to better organic ranking. Stars in search results are an attention grabber for sure.

Below which listing would you click? If I’m considering spine surgery I’m clicking the highest rated provider (but I’m somewhat biased because that’s my work:))

stars in organic results

There is a pretty quick way that you can get star ratings next to your search results by using a plugin (if you have a WordPress site) or by adding some code to your website. Additionally, just about every review and rating platform out there offers a piece of code you can embed in your website that shows your star ratings and reviews which have collated in the review platform of your choice.

The code looks something like this:

I haven’t tried the WordPress plugin, but I know developers who have and are having success with it. Speaking of ratings, the WP Customer Reviews Plugin does have 4.5 stars.

After adding the code to your website, just wait a few days and try a few branded searches and look for your star ratings.

So that’s it. Just a little bit of work can get you star ratings in search. For a little more work you can have your practice sending out automated review requests to every patient you see. It’s definitely worth doing if you care what prospective patients see when they search you up on Google and according to the stats you should care.

Of course, being proactive in collecting patient reviews and showing up with a good reputation in the search engines is just the first step in winning new patients and repeat business.

Don’t forget to sign up for more patient marketing tips and secrets or contact me directly if you’d like help with improving your practice’s marketing efforts and acquiring new patients.