The Impact of Bad Online Reviews for Ophthalmology Practices

The Impact of Bad Online Reviews for Ophthalmology Practices

What does your ophthalmology practice have in common with a restaurant? You both rely on online reviews to boost your business. Even though it may seem odd for a person to wholeheartedly believe every online review about your practice – even when those reviews are mostly from complete strangers – this is our new reality.

Take a moment to read two vastly different reviews about a practice, but do so by reading them from the viewpoint of a potential patient. With which practice would you choose to schedule a consultation?

Review #1

“This practice is amazing on every single level! The staff is super friendly and made me feel comfortable even though I was super nervous. They answered all of my questions – even my dumb ones. They made me feel like I was the only patient in the whole building. My vision is amazing now. Even the billing process was super easy! I’m telling everyone to go there!”

Review #2

“Do. Not. Go. Here. I’ll start by saying that my surgery results were fine. I can see very well now. However, their customer service is horrible. The front desk staff is rude and gossipy. I had a ton of billing problems because they got my insurance wrong. I would wholeheartedly never return. Even though their prices are cheaper! It’s THAT bad.”

Although these review examples may seem extreme, patient frustrations can lead to some quite nasty (and even inappropriate) reviews if a patient has any type of bad experience. Your practice is being scrutinized at every small step of the patient process – from initial phone calls to the cleanliness of your office to your billing process. It’s not just surgical results that matter anymore.

You have the ability to request that inappropriate reviews about your practice be removed. However, once a review is online, it is there for all to see. The removal process can take weeks until an actual human can verify that it is, indeed, inappropriate and take it down. This is enough time for that negative review to cast a dark shadow on your practice.

EVERY Patient (or Potential Patient) Interaction Counts

Not all online reviews are made by actual patients. A potential patient could become so disillusioned with your practice during an initial phone call that they take the time to write a negative review.

In a recent examination of over 1,000 online reviews about breast augmentation in the U.S., researchers found that some of the reviews were written by people who had only consulted a plastic surgery practice but never actually had surgery. Instead, the reviews were written about how the person was treated by the staff during consultations, appointments or even on the phone.

Ophthalmology practices could fall to the same fate.

Even 1 Review Could Hurt

Every review counts. In fact, some people will purposely read the negative reviews first, thinking that those are the most honest. In a field that is so competitive, ophthalmology patients often have plenty of other practices from which to choose. Even if you are the only ophthalmology business in town, you still need to be cognizant of negative reviews; you may not be the only game in town for long! Here are some stats that drive home the importance of getting more positive reviews:

  • According to a Lightspeed Research study, 67% of shoppers may bail on purchasing your product or service after reading just 1 to 3 bad online reviews.
  • It is also estimated that 90% of consumers read less than 10 reviews to decide whether a company is worthy of their business. Millennials are especially trusting of online reviews (68% trust them).
  • It has also been reported that 1 negative review on a social media site can cost a medical practice 30 new patients.

Knowledge is Power with Negative Reviews

By continually monitoring online activity about your practice, your practice can stay ahead of negative reviews and respond to them quickly. If you don’t have the staff-power to do this in house every day, consider hiring a reputation monitoring service to do it for you. Sometimes it’s hard to step out of your practice role and into the mind of potential patients when writing responses. Having access to an objective third-party to write responses can minimize further damage that can occur if you respond with a heated message. You don’t want the reviewer to write an even worse review if they get a response from the practice that makes them angrier.

Negative Plus Negative Equals Negative

Here is an example of a terrible way to respond to the negative review we mentioned earlier:

“First, let us start by saying that we are so happy we fixed your vision! Really, that’s the most important thing that we strive to do. We are sorry you didn’t like our customer service. Our front desk staff has been very overworked lately because one of our members is out on maternity leave. They are a bit stressed! Also, the reason you had billing problems is because you didn’t provide us with the right information. So, that really wasn’t our fault. We hope you will understand our challenges, change your review and come back again!”

This practice takes absolutely no responsibility and even blames the patient for their bad experience. Worse yet, they ask for the person to change their review! Put yourself in the receiving end of that response. Would you really return or change your review after that response?

Negative Reviews Will Add Up

Negative reviews may not affect your revenue overnight, but the ripple effect will eventually lead to fewer leads, fewer surgeries and lost revenue. If your practice is not actively monitoring online chatter about you, it’s time to start. There are over 200 social media sites to check. If this sounds too overwhelming for your practice to handle, there are specific ophthalmology marketing resources that can help.

Advantage Healthcare Consulting, a division of Advantage Administration, offers a Management Services Organization (MSO) that has partnered with ophthalmology marketing resources to help practices stay on top of review monitoring. When your practice joins our MSO for just $295 per year, you can receive significant savings on these services plus a huge array of other ophthalmology products and services to run your practice. To learn more about how our MSO can save your ophthalmology practice money and improve your revenue, contact Advantage Healthcare Consulting, a division of Advantage Administration, today.