How Online Reputation Management Can Help Rural Hospitals Increase Revenue

Oct. 11, 2021


By Mike Milligan, President Legato Healthcare Marketing


My wife and I are technically empty nesters, but we still have two “kids” at home, Wilson and Autumn. To some people they’re just a couple of golden retrievers, but to Ann and me, they’re members of our family and we all spend a lot of time together, as you can see by the picture on the right. 

So when our vet retired, we did what any concerned pet parents would do. We searched Google to find a new one.

Living in a rural community, we didn’t have a lot of options. One veterinary clinic was rated 3.5; a pretty solid score. But when we read the reviews, we saw a common theme about a “strong stench” in the building, rude office personnel, and a couple of disconcerting comments that the clinic seemed to push extra tests just to make money.

Another veterinary clinic had a 4.5-star rating with several positive reviews about the cleanliness of the facility and the way they treated everyone — four-legged and human — as if they were family.

Guess which clinic received our business?

I share this story because whether we’re talking about pets or patients, online reviews have the power to drive consumers to — or away from — your facility. In fact, recent studies show:

  • 80% of consumers use online reviews in their initial steps to find a provider, and 16% will use them to validate their choices.[1]
  • Hospitals with a high reputation score have a 29% higher revenue — per bed — than those with a low reputation score.[2]

Facts like these underscore the importance of developing an online reputation management (ORM) program to help ensure your rural hospital is perceived positively in the digital world.

be proactive with an orm program

ORM goes well beyond crisis prevention. It provides a proactive and systematic way to take control of your brand’s online presence, including: 

  • Creating and managing business listings on different platforms, such as Google Business Listings.
  • Effective social media management and profile optimization.
  • Developing and sharing quality, relative organizational content.
  • Monitoring, tracking and reporting a hospital’s online reputation.
things to remember when starting an ORM Program

That said, here are some important points to keep in mind when developing an ORM program for your hospital:

  • Continually monitor your reputation, which is based on a series of experiences, including:
    • Quality of care you provide.
    • Patient interactions.
    • Innovation and access to care.
    • Character of your hospital, e.g., empathy, acceptance of diversity, response to community needs.
  • Encourage patient feedback and build on positive results: Leverage opportunities to share patients’ experiences. Personal stories of care often have a greater influence on consumers’ decisions than statistics.

  • Handle negative comments constructively:
    • Be empathetic and positive. Acknowledge the reviewer’s opinion and state facts, not excuses.
    • Invite the reviewer to have a conversation offline to address the issue.
    • Provide context for other people who view the post (without divulging patient confidentialities).  
    • Share what you’ve done to prevent the situation from happening again. If you can solve the issue, you can often turn an adversary into an advocate.
  • Follow HIPAA and other privacy regulations (even if the individual has disclosed private information in the online review).

  • Measure results. For example, Legato conducts a quarterly online reputation audit to help some of our clients track their ratings and identify areas for operational, facility and service improvements.
Online Reputation Can Affect Financial performance

There is a direct correlation between online reputation and financial performance, making ORM a contributing factor to the success of rural hospitals. One of the most effective ways to improve the patient experience — and ultimately increase volume and revenue — is to monitor feedback and use the data to make meaningful changes to your processes.

If you have questions about developing an ORM program, or if you’d like to hear about the strategies Legato has put into place for our clients, please reach out to our digital team.

[1] SoftwareAdvice