In the 20th century, during the pre-Internet era, finding any kind of product or service for the general public generally meant one thing; consulting the “Yellow Pages.” The free phone book provided to residents of a city was one of the few places where every business or service provider was publicly listed. However, all that was available in the yellow pages were contact details such as phone numbers and a physical address.
In the 21st century, things are very different. The Internet has made a physical book with phone numbers practically obsolete, but perhaps more importantly, searching for more than just contact details is now possible. And it’s thanks to new services, such as Yelp, that quality medical services are finding more patients than ever.
Digital Word Of Mouth
One of the great truisms of advertising and marketing is that the one form of promotion that trumps everything else is word of mouth. The public has grown increasingly more sophisticated and aware of many marketing techniques, making them more skeptical of traditional advertising and promotion. However, hearing an unbiased opinion or feedback of a product or service from either an acquaintance or another “fellow member of the general public” with no perceived agenda for or against a product or service is especially valued. People tend to take the opinions of others outside the marketing industry more seriously, as they feel that this will be an honest assessment that takes genuine customer concerns into account.
Because of this, website services like Yelp have become important in many industries, from the hotel to restaurant to healthcare services. Yelp allows people who have visited a hospital, for example, to report their experience and rate it, so that others can see what the general perception is of that hospital or clinic’s quality.
In the case of Yelp, these reports have become detailed over the years. Reviews on healthcare providers can go into more depth, outlining details such as the wait times in emergency rooms, the quality of facilities, and even an assessment of the services rendered by individual physicians.
This has made it possible for potential patients to get very detailed information about a hospital, clinic or other facility before they ever step through the door. In one sense, this has been a great boon for healthcare providers that focus on quality service as they are rewarded with positive reviews that create a cycle of increasing patients. On the other hand, consistently negative reviews will eventually penalize an underperforming facility with reduced patient attendance as an online reputation is acquired, and people take their medical needs elsewhere.
This means that if you provide quality medical care, added focus on your patients and their Yelp reviews can be a very cost-effective way to get free promotion. It also means that if there are deficiencies in your service, you will quickly find out what they are through negative reviews, giving you an opportunity to assess your operations, and start making improvements to prevent a potentially harmful, negative slide into poor reviews and ratings.
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