7 Ways Non-Acute Providers Can Boost Their Online Reviews

October 19, 2021
Phone showing doctors with online star ratings
Many patients and potential patients now look at online reviews of medical providers before booking an appointment. Like many other industries, non-acute healthcare is seeing an increasing number of online ratings and reviews.
The first site to focus exclusively on doctor reviews, RateMDs, was launched in 2004 and now has more than 2.6 million doctor reviews. Today, there are as many as 70 review sites that can affect a physician’s image, which means doctors and facilities must work to maintain a positive online presence.

Ratings and reviews are not necessarily a measure of quality care, but they do influence patients, which can in turn influence the perception of a facility’s business. Reviews span any area of a patient visit, even outside of direct care. Patients often leave reviews commenting on customer service, wait times, costs and parking availability. The end-to-end patient experience is more critical than ever before.
If you think providing good care is enough and online reviews don’t matter, think again. A study from 2018 found that three-quarters of patients want to see at least seven ratings before picking one physician over another.


Negative reviews, even if they’re unfair, can hurt a practice while positive ones can attract new patients. Non-acute healthcare providers can take steps to encourage positive reviews and mitigate negative ones. Here are seven ways:

1. Enhance and maintain the facility’s social media presence.

Having an online presence across multiple sites, like Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, gives you more opportunities to reach and engage with patients, which can lead to favorable reviews. In addition to having greater exposure to current and potential patients, social media also offers more ways for them to contact your facility or ask questions.

Make sure that you manage whatever sites you set up and post regularly to ensure patients see your presence. Likewise, be sure your website is search engine optimized, which means using popular keywords in the copy. This makes it easy for patients to find you using a search engine.

Facilities can work with a digital marketing agency to help improve their online presence, including making their websites more modern and SEO friendly. Provista members can use a contract with a full-service digital marketing company to better connect with patients online.

2. Respond quickly to online reviews and ratings.

Do not let negative reviews stand unchallenged, even if you’re simply encouraging the patient to contact the office to resolve an issue. As a best practice, respond timely to questions and comments, even positive ones. Responses can be a brief thank you. Patients like to get noticed online, and it may encourage other patients to post reviews as well.

Make time to interact with patients online who have posted a question. Again, responses can be short. You can invite them to contact your office or schedule an appointment to address their question or health concern.

3. Engage with patients to change negative reviews.

Sometimes patients change or update their reviews after hearing from a doctor or the facility. People who view the posts can also be influenced by the responses. One survey found that 66% of people find it very or moderately important for physicians to respond publicly to online reviews. The same survey also revealed that spending as little as 10 minutes a week cultivating your online presence and addressing feedback publicly reduces the impact of negative reviews by up to 70%.

It is possible to have negative reviews on third-party sites removed under certain circumstances, like if the review violates HIPAA, has inappropriate language or if the reviewer is not actually a patient. However, it’s often difficult to have a bad or unfair post removed from a site.

4. Identify unhappy patients before they leave a negative review.

If you know a patient is unhappy, address the issue before they leave the office—and before they leave a negative review. Reputation management is important, which entails understanding patient sentiment and knowing how to influence it. 

Every patient touchpoint is important. That means how staff speak to patients on the phone or treat them when they enter the facility is meaningful. These are also opportunities to offer services that improve patient loyalty and sentiment. For example, offering a rideshare service can benefit a practice and enhance patient experiences by transporting people to and from their appointments. For long-term care facilities, this could mean upgrading food options to improve resident satisfaction.

5. Encourage happy patients to leave reviews.

It may seem self-serving or even aggressive to ask patients to leave positive reviews, and it may turn them off. You must also be careful to not violate a site’s terms or pressure patients into writing reviews.

A proven approach is to encourage patients who had a good experience to share their thoughts on review sites. If someone compliments you in person, it’s okay to suggest that they share their thoughts on a review site, too.

6. Feature high ratings on your website and social media.

When you receive top ratings and positive comments, feature them in a prominent place on your website. If you’re naming patient names, be sure to request permission.

Another best practice is to repost positive or complimentary Tweets and other social posts on your channels. In addition, saying thank you virtually to patients who leave good reviews can make them feel validated, which fosters loyalty.

7. Use reviews as opportunities.

Ratings and reviews provide valuable insights to help you identify potential or actual problems, then take action to improve services. If you see a pattern of specific likes or dislikes in reviews, use them to enhance your business and encourage other positive reviews.
Similar comments from multiple patients allow you to find out what you’re doing well or not doing well. When people take the time to write a review, they are usually passionate and honest about their experiences.

“Ratings and reviews provide valuable insights to help you identify potential or actual problems, then take action to improve services.”

Monitoring and being active on social media requires staff resources, which means facilities should have a point person who can dedicate time to these tasks. That person should be familiar with third-party sites and HIPAA rules to ensure the facilities do not violate any website rules or privacy laws with posts or responses.
The right approach to social media can improve both the business and patient relations. Taking an active role in promoting and responding to social posts also helps enhance facilities’ digital reputations, which are increasingly important as non-acute patients diagnose their doctors online.

Ready to Get Started?

Take the next step to start saving.

Become a Member