If you like to skim through a few customer reviews before committing to a particular purchase, then you are in good – and vast – company. Online customer reviews have popped up relentlessly in the past decade, covering just about everything. But one field in which they stand to be especially effective is healthcare.

Online patient reviews are a relatively new idea, and healthcare providers embracing them is even newer, with the University of Utah Health Care significantly being one of the first to do so. They introduced a patient satisfaction survey, to collect and publish data to their website in 2014, and since then, they have flourished in both quality and patient ratings. Many other healthcare providers have taken a page out of their book with similar results.

With online reviews on such a steep rise, we are likely to see vast improvements in the healthcare system, for medical professionals as well as patients. Here’s how:

1. Feedback

While it never feels good to get a negative review, doctors and hospitals can use them to pinpoint areas in which they can improve. For instance, perhaps their quality of care is excellent, but they never realized that their customer service needed work until a former patient pointed out their abrasive phone etiquette. If the doctor or hospital then pushes themselves to improve in that area, they will have more satisfied patients than they did before. Not to mention, if they respond to the former patient’s less-than-thrilled review, explaining what they are doing to fix the problem, that patient may feel more inclined to give them business again, and less inclined to steer their friends and family members away from the practice.

2. Improved Patient Experience

When doctors and hospitals are motivated to make the necessary changes to improve their service, it follows that their patients’ experience will improve too. Satisfied patients mean two very important things in healthcare: repeat visits and referrals. With a bit of nudging many happy patients will be glad to leave a favorable review, which other patients will see and next thing you know, more and more patients are flooding in. In this scenario the business and the individual both win. Yes, there will always be reviewers you can’t please, who fixate on things firmly outside your control, but your patients know that too. It’s important for both doctors and patients to focus on the positives and move forward.

3. Closer Doctor-Patient Relationships

The mutually beneficial nature of online healthcare reviews is perfect to foster closer, more meaningful doctor-patient relationships, which are highly important in making sure that both individuals get the most out of their interaction. The doctor or hospital gets to improve their business and the patient gets to feel heard, and be reassured that their doctor will not cut any corners. Plus, now that many online reviews go through a practice’s social media pages, doctors have the opportunity to further connect with their patients online, assuming both parties want to make that connection.

4. Increased Trust

This is a result of improved relationships between doctors and their patients, but also of the sense of trustworthiness that online reviews create. By publishing and responding to online reviews, medical professionals give the idea that they’re committed to quality care, as well as confident in their ability to provide it. Not to mention, they place a degree of trust in the patient, by encouraging online reviews, which in turn makes the patient feel that they are trustworthy as well. This allows the professional relationship to flourish alongside the personal one.

5. More Informed Consumer Decisions

At the end of the day, sometimes a doctor or hospital just isn’t the right one for a particular patient. Whether it’s a matter of costs, medical ideology, or just not seeing eye to eye, a doomed doctor-patient interaction is never a fun experience for anyone. By reading online reviews ahead of time, patients can make better-informed decisions about which professionals are the best fit for their specific priorities. This way, those uncomfortable encounters can be avoided altogether. This, too, will lead to more patients walking out of their doctors’ appointments happy and healthy.

The rise of technology in the healthcare system has been a fascinating development to see unfold, especially when it comes to online reviews and medical transcriptionist courses found online. This important tool has become essential to helping doctors improve their practices, and patients feel that they are being taken care of–something that will undoubtedly lead to improved healthcare, and more satisfied individuals all around.

by: Devin Caldwell