Monday, October 4, 2010

Ratings websites: A valuable marketing tool for health marketers?

Whether you like it or not, health care ratings websites are here to stay. They're sprouting up all over the web because people find them helpful. As is the case with many innovative ideas, businesses in other industries have been quicker to embrace ratings as a marketing tool (hotels, for example, use ratings sites extensively). While adoption in the health care sector is slow, many providers are beginning to see the value and jump on board (see how one hospital uses and responds to ratings here).

If health care ratings websites make you uncomfortable, it's probably because you're not comfortable with how your patients perceive you. Chances are you have lower than average quality scores and your staff aren't great at customer service. But that's OK, I say, because health care providers like you need not participate. We'll just assume from your lack of participation that you are shy about your ratings for good reason. We'll choose to be cared for by a provider that is more transparent. Why?

A health care provider that chooses to be open about ratings and engage in a dialogue with patients is really telling us a few things:

1. They're good and they know it
2. They're worthy of our trust
3. They care about what we think
4. They want to be even better

As you can see, these are very powerful statements. What makes them more powerful is that they're not said overtly. Marketing gold.

So if you're not afraid, I challenge you to embrace ratings websites. Use them as a tool to improve, to tell your story and to reach new patients.

Ratings are happening whether you participate or not, so you should at least be aware of what is being said about you (see if you have any reviews on WhereToFindCare.com here). Participating will help you take control and turn the situation into a marketing advantage.

You can participate with WhereToFindCare.com by asking your patients and visitors to share their experiences here. When you subscribe you can also respond to comments. We even have tips to help you respond to comments effectively.

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