When you’re searching for the best restaurant in town or the most trustworthy place to take your car for an oil change, you probably turn to some consumer reviews on Google or Yelp. Sure, the company’s website sounds great, but they have complete control over that messaging. Consumer experiences are much more telling, right?
Well, the same idea applies for people searching for a healthcare institution. A review can make or break a potential patient’s decision to choose your clinic or hospital over another. Thankfully, there’s some evidence out there that reveals what great (and not-so-great) reviews have in common when it comes to healthcare organizations.
In a study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, researchers found that the word most associated with negative reviews was “told.” Reviews that included the word “told” averaged 1.78 stars out of five stars. The one-star reviews that contained “told” highlighted frustrations about miscommunications (“They never told me the cost of any of the procedures.”) and feelings of helplessness. (“Someone examined me and told me there was nothing they could do for me.”)
The word “told” suggests a breakdown in two-way communication. Patients need guidance and advice when it comes to their health, but no one likes to be lectured or talked down to. Medical jargon, abbreviations and acronyms are all things to avoid when speaking to patients, whether that be face-to-face or through printed materials.
For positive reviews, researchers found that the word “friendly” was used most often. In these reviews, patients voiced their satisfaction with hospital staff’s attentiveness. (“The entire staff was very friendly and made sure we were taken care of.”)
It’s no secret that great communication is a key part of friendly service. Addressing concerns and taking an educational, rather than instructional, approach leads to patients feeling happy, valued and informed.
Shoot for the (Five) Stars
The two most common words found in reviews, “told” and “friendly,” directly reflect the failure or success of communication between a patient and your healthcare organization. Keeping this in mind, you can carefully execute a communication plan that will leave your patients feeling satisfied (and wanting to post a gleaming review).
From direct mail pieces on preventative medicine to brochures on specific treatment plans, a consistent, patient-centered messaging strategy and the use of clear verbiage will help form a partnership full of trust and open communication between patient and provider.
If you’re ready to get started on building a successful communication plan, reach out today!