How UT Physicians improved ratings and increased web visibility
Protecting and building your online reputation is a top priority for health care marketing and leadership teams. Engaging patients in sharing their experiences and building brand awareness and rank helps demonstrate to consumers how much your organization cares about Human Understanding.
NRC Health data reports that 52.3% of consumers say they have viewed ratings and reviews of health care providers online before making an appointment. Consumers pay special attention to average star ratings and the sentiments expressed in a review, along with the number of reviews, when choosing a new provider.
UT Physicians, a group practice of more than 2,000 clinicians certified in more than 80 medical specialties and subspecialties with more than 100 locations around Houston, wanted to improve their online star ratings and brand awareness to drive long-term loyalty. The group is associated with UTHealth Houston, a health science university comprised of six schools that focus on health care education, innovation, scientific discovery, and excellence in patient care.
After implementing NRC Health’s solutions, and utilizing effective reputation-management tools, UT Physicians increased its number of Google reviews by 776% in 2022 over the previous year – bringing in 2,173 reviews, up from 280 in 2021.
“Consumers research organizations and their online reviews,” says Sharon Messimer, MLA, Director of Patient Experience for UT Physicians. “It’s kind of the standard thing consumers do if they’re looking for any kind of service. They’re not just patients being told where to go; they’re becoming consumers who want the information to be available and transparent. It’s where we are in any industry—health care must be taking note of that and not lagging.”
The organization’s average rating is now 4.6 out of 5.0, up from 2.9. And by the end of 2022 their 5-star ratings increased to 87% (up from 41%).
Seeing the big picture
Messimer says that sometimes health care systems aren’t thinking about the indirect revenue that can come from reviews. “Sometimes people think, ‘I don’t like that review. I want to remove it,’” she says, adding that leaders should instead think, “That’s out there. What will we do to change, so we don’t have people who publish reviews like that?”
She adds that it’s always wise to follow up on published reviews.
“It’s an opportunity to do service recovery if something is wrong, or acknowledge someone if they gave a wonderful review, which builds retention,” she says. “Recognizing a patient who has given us a good review creates loyalty, because they will do it again. If they’re unhappy, we respond to them in as close to real time as we can, with a person looking at all the reviews saying, ‘We’re sorry you had that experience—please contact us,’ then allowing that patient to call us and voice that concern. The more data you have, the more ‘voice of the patient,’ the better off you are as an organization.”
Tools that make a difference
UT Physicians has a patient experience team member dedicated to responding to reviews, as well as a backup to that position—because timeliness of response is of paramount importance.
“The real-time factor helps us get same-day surveys out as fast as possible,” Messimer says. “The patient gets the survey quicker while it’s still fresh in their mind. At the end of the survey,
we ask patients to opt in to provide an online review when they’re still excited. That speed is a big advantage. The reputation-management tools work together to get us the results we want to improve customer loyalty.”
Ultimately, when physicians, medical practices, and health systems attract more consumers, they increase their practice profitability and build stronger reputations for their communities. But it’s not just numbers that count. Enabling Human Understanding by sharing real patient stories helps paint a truer picture of how much your organization cares.