Among all the online databases for ratings and reviews in the US, Healthgrades tops the list as the most popular ‘exclusively-for-doctors’ online reviews website. This means that whenever a patient searches on Google for you or your practice, Healthgrades will most likely show up on first page of the search results.
Healthgrades boasts itself for having the largest consumer audience seeking physician care with 30 million monthly visits. Also, it holds a database of 3 million doctors, dentists, hospitals, and other healthcare providers throughout the US, which makes it the Yelp of doctor reviews.
Pair the above information with Healthgrades’ policy of providing information on healthcare providers (after aggregating them from publicly available resources) without getting approval from them, and you’ll understand why you need to work toward improving your star ratings on it. In short, your Healthgrades reviews matter!
Healthgrades’ Approach to Ratings
Dr. Archelle Georgiou, MD, and strategic advisor to Healthgrades, explains that the site’s ratings give sole importance to the clinical quality outcomes which currently focus on measuring the mortality rate, and complication rates.
- Mortality rate – Did the patients die right after treatment, or without a set time after being discharged?
- Complication rate – Did the patients report any unexpected health issues as a result of the treatment?
Healthgrades also asserts that their ratings process is completely transparent and every detail regarding the ratings is available online.
Also, the ratings website reports results on all hospitals. Hospitals don’t have a choice to opt in or opt out from Healthgrades’ ratings. Healthgrades aggregates information about providers from publicly available governmental and commercial sources, which means that it’s possible that your profile is already there and you don’t know about it. In that case, what you should do is:
- Claim your profile by further updating the information
- Use your original picture and credentials to make it believable for patients
- Work towards improving the ratings on it
- You may also update your profile to premium for better visibility and conversion benefits
Healthgrades primarily focuses on showing up the overall ratings for the quality of care. Its star ratings represent a total score by patients based on different criteria such as trustworthiness, staff friendliness, average wait times, etc. (see the screenshot below taken from the HealthGrade’s review submission online form)
Image source: Healthgrades
It also allows your patients to write written comments but comments go to the team for screening (for checking of accuracy, fakeness, policy guidelines, and other stuffs). If the team approves the comment, then only it’s posted online and appears in your profile. But mostly, Healthgrades is all about its ratings, not written reviews.
Tips for Providers to Boost Their Ratings on Healthgrades
Dr. Georgiou encourages patients to look for these 5 Ps in a provider for selecting them:
- Professional Credentials – Board certifieddoctors, not just MDs; all doctors are Mds
- Practice specialties match – Make sure a doctor’s specialty focus meets your needs
- Experience with specific procedures – The volume of procedures a doctor has done is correlated with their results
- Select those with high performance scores – Look for the providers with high ratings; at least 3 stars are considered to be good
- Consider the personal experience of others – Word of mouth referrals
The first three Ps are mostly for providers to manage. This article will focus on giving out ways that will focus on improving on the last two Ps; performance scores, and personal experience (which means the positive reviews).
Increase the number of positive reviews from your happy patients
The fact that most of your happy patients generally skip reviewing is the prime reason that often spoils your overall ratings on Healthgrades (or any other review website) with the over-presence of the negative ratings (unhappy patients are less likely to skip venting out their frustrations) over the potentially positive ones.
The best way is to ask your happy patients for reviews. However, the way you ask, and how you facilitate them to actually register their ratings will decide whether they’ll comply to your request or not.
- How to ask your patients for reviews – The formula is to ask them by engaging them. Click here to read in detail about the formula.
- How to Facilitate patients to ease the the review registering process – RepuGen will help your patients navigating through the review submission process, allowing them to share it on their favorite review websites, including Healthgrades.
Watch the short video given below to understand how RepuGen makes the review registering process a fun and interactive one for patients.
Respond tactfully to selective patient ratings and reviews
Responding to reviews doesn’t directly affects your ratings on Healthgrades. However, responding to the right reviews and using the right way certainly affect your patients’ mindsets when they’re there to rate you. An angry patient will cease to spit venom and write a more sensible (though negative) comment about his experience after seeing that the provider generally responds to similar comments, showing that he or she cares about them. Having finally solved their issues, you can politely ask them to rate you positively. They’ll most likely comply with your request.
Also, take care of these things:
- Be respectful of the reviewer
- Address the issues but do not go in specifics
- Never mention names; as it may violate HIPAA privacy laws
- Never ever indulge into heated conversations
A more open and vibrant platform, such as Yelp or Facebook, demands a frequent response to reviews because if you don’t, your detractors will take the stage which will further damage your reputation. While Healthgrades is a conservative platform that doesn’t require you to respond every time a patient leaves a review, it’s better to select which reviews to respond to. You may skip the positive ones, but addressing the issues of an angry patient in an appropriate manner is always a good idea.
Do not hesitate to report the falsified or overly negative reviews
Negative reviews sometimes happen. However, Healthgrades allows to report reviews that seem to be fake or overly negative. If you can provide a strong proof in favor of your argument, the site will unhesitatingly remove such reviews.
Fake reviews or overly negative reviews are reputation killers. They can leave a very bad impression on your prospective patients. Your angry patients may get even angrier after seeing them and rate you even worse than what they would have decided to do.
Another case of spam on Healthgrades could be the repeated submissions of ratings.
Image source: Healthgrades
Healthgrades has a strict quality control and identity verification protocol that can help you get rid of fake or spam reviews in a matter of few days. So, if you see any suspicious review, you can flag that review (see the option underlined in orange color in the screenshot above), or contact Healthgrades customer service. The company will remove that review if provided with the clear evidence of falsification.
Use internal surveys for identifying areas of improvements
Keep soliciting feedback from patients for identifying your areas of improvements. Use this information to make proper adjustments to your care delivery, billing, and other key aspects of the patient experience.
You can try different methods for soliciting quick feedback from your patients.
Use your own preferred method – a written feedback, a call, a mail, or a text feedback.
If you’re a big hospital or practice with large number of physicians in your office, it’s better to go the RepuGen way. It will help by sending link to each patient for easy submission of review on their respective provider’s profile on Healthgrades (or on some other review website). RepuGen will also help you improve your hospital’s performance the following way:
- It will do sentiment analysis for each of your patient, helping you understand how your patients felt after their visits
- It will provide performance report on each of your staff (as suggested by your patients), helping them to identify their weak spots and improve upon them
The short video below will give you the idea in a nutshell about how RepuGen helps to improve a hospital’s performance.
Work toward “Recognized Doctor” status or upgrade to premium
Healthgrades confers the “recognized doctor” status to those providers who meet these criteria:
- Have a board certification in the specialty they practice (just MDs can’t get this)
- Have not had their license surrendered or revoked since Healthgrades started collecting data in 2000
- Have no malpractice judgments, adverse arbitration awards, or monetary settlements for the last five years in the states in which Healthgrades can collect data
Providers with “recognized doctor” status in their states get an increased impression for all types of patient searches on Healthgrades.
You can also upgrade to a premium profile on Healthgrades which, as the site claims, can generate 78% more reviews and 9 more phone calls (on an average) per month.
Ajay Prasad is a serial entrepreneur, a business strategist, and a healthcare marketing expert with almost three decades of experience. He is the founder and CEO of RepuGen. He has built this innovative reputation management software from scratch, incorporating multifaceted artificial intelligence (AI) which has allowed for rapid growth, maximum outreach and a 95% user satisfaction rate.