Healthcare is an ever-changing industry. Medicines improve. Surgeries become less invasive. And alongside the transformation of the medical practice, the rise of the online review system has changed the medical consumer and how they view healthcare in general.

More and more, consumers are looking to the internet to discover the products and companies they want to support, including the orthopedic doctors they wish to be treated by. However, what generally persuades a potential consumer, or patient in our case, to choose a business are the reviews left online by previous individuals.

“Consumers now more than ever have both a voice and a choice when it comes to their healthcare providers,” explains H.C. Eschenroeder, Jr., MD, chief medical information officer of OrthoVirginia. “Patients no longer solely rely on referrals from their primary care physicians. With the accessibility of the internet, they can research physicians for themselves, read reviews from previous patients, and decide which medical practice they would like to be seen by.”

While the online review system is an incredible tool, the majority of patients who are satisfied with their care do not go out of their way to leave positive online reviews. On the other hand, patients who are disgruntled after their appointment usually are extremely willing to speak their mind. This disproportionate phenomenon can unjustly skew physicians’ ratings and impact the influx of future patients.

At OrthoVirginia, we asked ourselves how we could invest in better understanding patient satisfaction and experience through reviews to lead us to improve quality outcomes. How could we capture positive and negative feedback from our patients to enhance both our online ratings and our real-world services?

These questions led us to SocialClimb.

What is SocialClimb?

SocialClimb is a service specifically designed to help improve physicians’ online reputations by making the review process for patients incredibly simple. Instead of relying on patients to actively seek out online review platforms, Social Climb initiates the review process by sending out a personalized text or email automatically once the patient has completed their appointment.

Inside this message, a photo of your physician will be included alongside a link and an invitation to leave a review. When the link is clicked, a screen will ask the patient if they are willing to leave a private review on Social Climb or a public review on the platforms of your choice such as Google, Facebook, Vitals, or Healthgrades. By putting the option to review their physician directly in front of your patients in an easy-to-use, mobile friendly manner, doctors receive a consistent influx of positive reviews.

How did SocialClimb affect OrthoVirginia’s online reputation?

Prior to our investment in SocialClimb, our patients would only leave reviews if they felt the urge to do so. In other words, we did not have a reviews strategy, and we received few reviews and fewer positive reviews.

Before using SocialClimb’s services, OrthoVirginia received around 7,000 online reviews, which averaged together gave us a 3.95 star rating. After starting SocialClimb, the overall amount of reviews for our physicians and the number of positive reviews both soared. From the start date of using SocialClimb to now, OrthoVirginia has received 29,000 reviews, averaging together to give us a 4.82 star rating.

Combined with the pre-SocialClimb rating, OrthoVirginia has received over 35,000 reviews and is currently rated 4.66 out of 5 online, an increase of almost an entire star. Thanks to the simplicity of SocialClimb, patients are more willing to leave a review of their experience with our physicians.

How does SocialClimb help OrthoVirginia’s negative reviews?

SocialClimb allows us to track negative reviews individually and identify unsatisfied patients so we can acknowledge and resolve any shortcomings.

Additionally, SocialClimb enables us to evaluate star reviews for individual offices so we can see if negative reviews concerning the same issue are being repeatedly left by our patients. If a trend of negative reviews develops regarding waiting times for example, we can take specific action to help remedy the situation and improve our company going forward.

Why does online reputation matter for OrthoVirginia?

Although only a small percentage of patients leave negative reviews, almost 100% of potential patients read online reviews of physicians. In this day and age, online reputation of physicians matters as much if not more than training, experience, education, and a referral from your primary care physician. Potential patients want to hear from likeminded individuals about their personal experience with the physicians at hand.

Potential patients are also deciding on which physicians to make appointments with based on who appears in their Google searches. Most people don’t look past the first page of their search results. Google takes the recency and rating of reviews into consideration when deciding which physicians to highlight in search. In order to ensure that our physicians are showing up on page one in local Google searches, our online ratings must truly reflect the high-quality care we pro-vide.

“There are countless technological advancements that push the medical industry forward every day,” states Dr. Eschenroeder. “The internet and online review system are included in those advancements. Tools like SocialClimb help provide OrthoVirginia an online presence to patients that accurately depicts the incredible care we offer.”

When thinking about the future of medicine, the internet is going to play a continuously increasing role. Potential patients will rely more and more heavily upon both the search engine of their choice and the publicly displayed online reviews of medical practices to find the physicians they wish to be treated by.

By actively investing in SocialClimb and seeking out the reviews of our current and previous patients, we are providing a sign of transparency to the patients of tomorrow. They can scroll through reviews left by likeminded people, weighing the pros and cons of our practice based on outside information they trust.