- Americans are increasingly going online to find doctors and rate their healthcare experiences. In a new Binary Fountain survey, 51% of respondents said they share their personal medical experiences via social media, online ratings and review sites — 65% more than did so a year ago.
- Among millennials, 70% reported sharing doctor and hospital experiences online. The share was slightly lower for young millennials age 18 to 24 at 68%, but a whopping 94% jump from the previous year.
- Meanwhile, 70% of Americans say their choice of doctor was influenced by online ratings and reviews, and 41% admitted checking out a doctor online even when another provider referred them.
Hospitals and doctors may not be thrilled about the growing reliance on online reviews, but with more consumers using them to select and rate their care, they need to take them seriously. With CMS focused on patient engagement and patient experience, how a provider handles patient feedback can impact their quality performance ratings.
Providers should suppress the urge to get angry over negative reviews and instead look at the review from the patient's perspective, David Williams, chief strategy officer at LEVO Health, previously told Healthcare Dive. "The quicker the response, the more likely people will ... feel heard," he said.
In the latest survey, 95% of respondents called online ratings and reviews "somewhat" to "very" reliable. And of those, 100% of 18-24 year olds and 97% of 24-34 year olds said online comments and rankings are reliable, according to the second annual Healthcare Consumer Insight & Digital Engagement survey.
When asked about their expectations for patient care, 48% of all respondents said a friendly and caring attitude is the most important quality they look for in a doctor. Other key factors are the ability to answer patients' questions (47%) and thoroughness of the examination (45%).
Americans also value their time and, with more virtual and retail care options available, don't have to put up with limited hours and packed waiting rooms. More than four in 10 consumers (43%) said wait time is the most frustrating part of seeing the doctor. By contrast, 10% each mentioned cost and payment and waiting for exam results, while 9% chafed at scheduling appointments.
The report also highlighted providers' need to understand and respond to what's being said about their services online.
"The survey results underscore the significance of online ratings and reviews as online reputation management for physicians becomes ever-more important in today's healthcare environment," Aaron Clifford, senior vice president of marketing at Binary Fountain, said in a statement. "As patients are becoming more vocal about their healthcare experiences, healthcare organizations need to play a more active role in compiling, reviewing and responding to patient feedback, if they want to compete in today’s marketplace."
Facebook is the platform of choice for sharing healthcare experiences among 25-54 year olds. Google replaced Twitter as the preferred platform among young millennials in this year's survey.
Correction: An earlier version of this article used an incorrect name for Binary Fountain.