Doctors, dentists, and specialists play an essential role in patients’ lives, and most patients investigate reviews to be sure the professional is trustworthy and knowledgeable. However, this makes it challenging for new medical offices or hospitals. Many doctors, dentists, and other professionals wonder how to ask patients for review, while still maintaining a strong relationship and adhering to privacy laws. Here are a few ways to ask patients for reviews politely and professionally.
10 Easy Ways to Ask Patients for Reviews
Asking patients to leave reviews can be a delicate process. This is especially true for medical practices like surgery or hospice care, where both empathy and professionalism are important. It is also essential to protect the patient’s personal records and confidentiality. However, it is possible to gather reviews while showing respect, empathy and concern for privacy. Remember that patients who have a good relationship with you and value your work will be happy to share with others.
No matter what method or methods you choose to get patients to leave reviews, remember the following:
- Always show empathy and respect
- Show that you appreciate your patients
- Choose review sites carefully. Ask patients which they use, and see where your competitors are.
- Don’t surrender all your reviews to third-party sites. Remember that third-party sites and the patients themselves own those reviews, so it’s important to gather some yourself to use on your website or marketing materials.
- After a patient leaves a review, be sure to take them off the list, so you don’t ask them again.
- Always maintain HIPAA compliance. Do not contact patients via email without their express consent, only use testimonials or reviews with the patient’s express consent, and never reveal any personal information, including the patient’s name, unless they have given permission to do so.
1. Automated Emails
Automated review requests do not have to be unfeeling. Carefully-worded automated requests can have the same impact as an individual email, and require only a fraction of the time. It’s helpful to use a series of emails to ask patients to leave reviews, to be sure the message is received. To get the best response, personalize these emails. Use the patient’s first name, thank them for their first visit or repeat visit, and ask about their experience.
Include a link in the email directly to your own review page, or a third-party site. Keep in mind that a patient who submits a review to a landing page on your website can also help you get reviews on other sites more easily. It should be easy to submit a review, and instructions should be clear. It’s helpful to include an example review, since patients don’t always know what to say.
Remind patients that it is not necessary to include personal health information, or details about their visit. Also, remember that patients may provide whatever information they like, but HIPAA laws prohibit healthcare providers from releasing medical or personal information without the patient’s consent. To comply with HIPAA when asking patients for reviews, consider the following:
- Remind patients they do not have to elaborate on details about their visit. Provide examples of general statements such as “the doctors are very caring and take time to answer questions” to demonstrate.
- Give patients the option to submit reviews anonymously, or inform them that you will remove their name if they wish.
- If you reply publicly to a review, either to thank or refute the reviewer, do not disclose any of their personal information or information about their visit, including their name. Use general statements, such as company policies.
- Make it clear what you will use the review for, and where it will be shown. Also, clearly show where the patient may give their permission. Inform them that submitting a review is appreciated, but not required.
- Only contact patients via email if they have given express permission to do so.
Remember that not all patients wish to be contacted via email. Only include patients who have consented to being contacted through email. Always use HIPAA compliant email software when transmitting any patient information.
2. Print on Appointment Cards
Appointment cards are handy reminders patients can pin on their calendars, keep on their refrigerators, or at their desk. Since patients tend to keep them and put them in visible places, this is also an ideal place to put a reminder to leave a review.
When you add a link to an appointment card and ask a customer to leave a review, make sure the link stays active and relevant for as long as you use the cards. If you change your landing page or decide to target a different review site, be sure to change the printed link as well. Also, point out the link on the card and ask the patient for a review when they receive the card, to ensure they don’t overlook it.
3. Print on Take-Home Instructions
Like appointment cards, take-home care instructions also tend to have more longevity than other paper reminders, mailings, or emails. When asking patients for a review using take-home care instructions, it’s particularly important to use a respectful tone. Remember that patients may be in pain, and an overly cheerful request might not be well-received.
Consider a request like the following: “Thank you for visiting our medical practice. We strive to give you the best care possible, and help other patients get the care they need. If you received high-quality care from your medical professional, please share your experience with other patients using the following link.”
4. Promotional Items
Promotional items like magnets, pens, or notepads with your office’s name and phone number on them helps patients keep your office at the top of their mind. This is also an easy way to get patients to leave reviews. Since promotional items tend to have more longevity than paper reminders, it’s even more important here to ensure the link to your landing page or a third-party site stays active.
A more cheerful reminder can be appropriate for promotional items. Consider a short phrase like, “tell us about your visit!” or a direct request, “please leave us a review.” To limit the space used by the link, you might use a link shortening tool like Bit.ly or Goo.gl. Once again, be sure that the shortened link stays active.
5. Ask at an Appointment
If you have some one-on-one time with patients at the end of their visit, this can be a good time to ask patients for reviews. You might combine this with an appointment card or another written link, or use a tablet to bring up the review page directly. If there are some waiting times during appointments, such as between seeing a nurse and doctor or dental hygienist and dentist, this might be a good time to ask patients to fill out a review directly on the tablet.
When using a tablet to collect reviews, make sure the device is not used to access other patient’s information, or any part of your record-keeping system. This will help to maintain security and HIPAA compliance.
6. Phone Call
Many doctors, dentists, and other specialists use a calling system to confirm or change appointments, or verify information. This can also be a good time to ask patients for reviews. At the end of the phone call, include a short phrase to direct patients to a landing page on your website or a third-party site. In your CRM or calling system, be sure to make a note of any patients who have already left reviews, so you don’t ask them again.
7. On Your Site
If patients frequently visit your website to make appointments or access information, this is a good place to ask patients for reviews. Use a call-to-action (CTA) on the sidebar, banner, or in the middle of the most frequently-visited pages of your site to ask for a review. The CTA should direct straight to either a landing page on your site, or a third-party review page.
Like after-care instructions and appointment cards, postcards can also be a helpful way to ask for reviews. Whether you are sending paper appointment reminders, holiday cards, news and information, or something else, include a link to your review page. Remember to thank your patient for continuing to trust your office with their care.
9. Request on Social Media
Social media is a helpful marketing tool for many local offices. This allows patients to get the latest updates about your practice, ask questions, and get health tips while using a site they normally use anyway. If your patients regularly interact with your posts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or another platform, this is a great place to ask them for reviews. Make a post linking directly to your landing page or preferred review site, and don’t be afraid to post more than once. Try different days of the week and times of day to see when your posts get the most interactions.
10. Previous Reviewers
If you ask patients to leave reviews on your own landing page, you have more control over the reviews, and you’ll be able to see who has actually answered your request. This way, you can follow up with previous reviewers and ask them to share their thoughts on other sites. Make this as easy as possible, using either a video review they already made, or text they already submitted. This way, they can submit additional reviews in just a few moments.
Remember that you cannot use, reproduce or reprint reviews left on third-party sites. These reviews are considered property of the reviewer and the site. Reproducing them without a patient’s permission also violates HIPAA laws. However, you can post reviews that you collect on your own site (with your patient’s permission to do so). This flexibility makes it ideal to gather reviews on your own platform first, and ask customers to spread the word after.
Which method works best for your practice will depend on what your patients prefer, what sort of practice you have, and what automation processes you already use. Whatever strategy you use, remember that your patients are also busy people and you will have to ask more than once. As long as you show appreciation for your patients, protect their privacy, and ask for reviews in a respectful manner, a number of your patients will be willing to provide reviews.