Take control of how new orthodontic patients see you

By Joel Headley

Patient reviews are key to attracting new orthodontic patients. Don’t believe me? In this article, I share why reviews are vital to practice success and offer tips on how you can take control of your online reputation.

Why patient reviews are important for orthodontists

Today’s patients don’t wait for their dentist’s referral to find an orthodontist. They rely on the Internet instead.

Three-quarters of patients (74.6%) have looked online to find out about a doctor, a dentist, or medical care, according to PatientPop. Furthermore, 59% say reviews contribute to which provider they ultimately choose.

Of course, simply having patient reviews isn’t the only thing that matters. About half of consumers (47%) wouldn’t even consider using a business with less than 4 stars, according to BrightLocal.

Also important, review signals contribute to local search rankings. If you’re lacking a high number of reviews, high frequency of reviews, or you’re not reviewed on several different sites, you’re not giving Google the information it needs to rank your practice higher in search results.

What all of this means is that, without reviews, your practice will have trouble attracting new patients.

Where patients read online reviews

You want patient reviews to have an impact, but to do so, they need to be seen. According to PatientPop research, the five most popular sites for reading patient reviews are:

  • Google
  • WebMD
  • Yelp
  • Healthgrades
  • Facebook

Enhance your profiles on these sites by claiming them so you’re in control of the information prospective patients see. You’ll also want to optimize your profiles by adding helpful practice details like contact information, business hours, services offered, and photos.

It’s also important to monitor your profiles for new patient reviews. This can be time-consuming, which is why I advise using reputation management software instead of manual monitoring.

How to acquire more patient reviews

Some patients will write reviews without prompting, but most people don’t take this initiative. If you want to achieve a high volume of recent patient reviews, you have to ask for them. Only 67% of consumers are asked to write reviews, according to BrightLocal. However, when asked, 51% go on to do so.

Patient feedback software is the best way to acquire a steady stream of online reviews. This involves sending automated patient satisfaction surveys after appointments and suggesting happy patients share their feedback publicly.

How to reply to negative patient reviews

Ideally, your orthodontic practice would never receive a negative review, but the reality is it happens to every business. The good news is that 97% or review readers also read businesses’ responses to reviews, according to BrightLocal. And, according to PatientPop, when a provider responds to a negative review, the rate of patient satisfaction doubles, increasing 99%.

Reaching out to a reviewer quickly, concisely, and carefully is the best way to handle the situation. Try to respond within 1 business day, make your public reply brief—with an offer to continue the conversation privately—and remain vague, as you do not want to confirm the reviewer is a patient or admit fault.

In addition to making things right with dissatisfied patients, replying to negative reviews shows prospective patients that you truly care about their satisfaction. All businesses do not take this step, so it will help your practice stand out.

Patient reviews are key to the lasting success of your orthodontic practice. Your online reputation depends on the quality and frequency of these reviews, so you must take reviews seriously, starting today. OP

Joe Headley is director of local SEO and marketing at PatientPop.