Well, we should have known it was coming. On August 5, Yelp announced a partnership with ProPublica to update its hospital listings with ProPublica research, plus data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) Hospital Compare website (see Yelp Expands Its Hospital Reviews: ER Wait Times, Doc Communication Now Available To Consumers). Yelp plans to update the data each quarter for 4,600 hospitals, 15,000 nursing homes, and 6,300 dialysis clinics in the U.S. What will it look like?
So what to do? There are two paths. First, do nothing – this is one that I find a disappointing number of executive teams choosing. The rationale is that consumers aren’t qualified to make judgements on health care service in the same way they are qualified to make judgements on say, restaurants (see Don’t Yelp Your Doctor). But that rationale misses the point – your consumers are using these ratings sites regardless of their efficacy for quality health care, and it is through that use that online ratings and rankings gain value.
Which leads me to path number two – manage those ratings and online comments. How?
Differentiate between online ratings and online reviews – Online ratings are those “public grades” given to your organization on performance reporting sites. Grades are based on performance, outcomes, quality, safety, and other attributing factors determined by the individual website or government initiative. Examples include federal government provider comparison websites (Medicare Quality Care Finder); payer/health plan provider comparison websites; and third party comparison websites (Healthgrades, Vitals, etc.).
Online reviews are the public reviews and/or comments about your organization or clinicians on comparison websites, rating websites, social media pages, public forums, and other public-driven web pages. These are not generated by your “performance,” but instead by consumer reaction to your organization. And, they come in two types:
- “Moderated” reviews are often linked to comparison or performance rating websites run by the government or payer/health plans. They are also screened, often verified, and tracked for accuracy – and can be challenged through a standard process.
- “Open Source” reviews and comments are not linked to affiliated comparison or performance rating websites. These appear on third-party websites, social media groups, blogs, forums, and any public webpage that allows user input. They are mostly un-moderated and unverified.
Develop a schedule and strategy to monitor these review sites – Organizations need to develop a plan, and assign staff to monitor performance rating websites, consumer review websites, common forums, and blogs.
An easy first step toward a more robust monitoring program is to set “Google Alerts” for your company name so you are notified when it is being mentioned on new webpages and social media channels. What do you do when you find bad reviews?
- Respond quickly when your reputation is being damaged. Remember, the web is real-time, even though the majority of companies are not. This means you must train someone to answer negative comments/reviews quickly and efficiently, and find internal shortcuts for validating answers as quickly as possible.
- Avoid any show of force. You want to respond appropriately and refute false claims – but don’t make the situation worse by engaging in back-and-forth battles
This may seem like a daunting task to track and manage all your ratings and reviews — but keep this in mind: ignoring bad reviews and ratings only validates the negative things said about your business online.
For a more detailed look at this process, you can watch my streaming presentation on the five key steps to building your best practice digital marketing program, Running A Best Practice Digital Marketing Program: Using Online Marketing & Social Media To Your Advantage. And, be sure to join me next month at the 2015 OPEN MINDS Executive Leadership Retreat for my presentation, What Is Your Social Media Plan? An Executive Guide.