Survey Shows How Patients Research Healthcare Providers Online

Consumers turn to the internet when they need information to make a decision. Whether they are shopping for clothing, choosing a restaurant, or buying a car, people look online first. This tendency is even true in the medical industry. A recent survey from PatientPop shows what people are searching for online when they’re selecting a doctor or medical provider.

PatientPop, a healthcare marketing platform, released a report titled Patient Prospectives 2019: Online Reputation. The study uses the responses of more than 800 people who were asked about the way they selected a healthcare provider.

It shouldn’t be too surprising to find out that three out of four (74.6 percent) respondents said they looked online to find more information about a doctor, dentist, or healthcare provider.  The survey suggests many people use the internet frequently to learn more about medical care. More than half of the respondents (57.1 percent) said they “sometimes” or “often” look online to research health professionals.  

“It’s common knowledge that most people look online when researching healthcare providers and care-related topics, but the industry is now experiencing the next level of patient empowerment and engagement,” said Luke Kervin, PatientPop Co-founder/Co-CEO, in a press statement. “Now is the time for practices to take action since patients demand greater convenience and easier access to care. Providers who deliver this are much more likely to be a top choice in their market,”

Graph Credit: PatientPop

When asked to choose the forms of information they found useful for selecting a healthcare provider, the majority chose online reviews (54.6 percent) and information from other websites (50.5 percent). Though it didn’t cross the halfway mark, the information on a practice’s website was also important for many consumers (43.6 percent) in the survey.

When asked “How important are positive patient reviews and a strong star rating?”, seven out of 10 respondents replied with “Very Important” or “Extremely Important.” This data shows the importance of managing your online reputation. One thing that many business owners and marketers forget is that people can often change their review score after they initially write it. Engaging with people who leave negative reviews can lead to the person rewriting the review with a better rating.

According to PatientPop, when healthcare providers engage with negative feedback and address the patient’s concerns, the rate of patient satisfaction roughly doubles, increasing by 99 percent. However, the majority of patients (51.8 percent) who said they sent negative feedback were never contacted by the practice to address their concerns.

Use of the internet for healthcare provider research spans all demographics, but adults use it the most. According to the PatientPop data, respondents in the 30-44 age group were the most active age group for online engagement with medical professionals. The lion’s share of people in this age group (85.8 percent) looked for providers online. Roughly two out of three (65 percent) were checking reviews, and two out of five (40.3 percent) were posting reviews.

The PatientPop report has a lot of great information that can help healthcare marketers refine their marketing strategy. For more information about consumer behavior, read this article on how and why people do their spring cleaning.

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