Online Reviews Show Patients Seek Strong Patient-Provider Communication

August 25, 2023

Courtesy of Sarai Rodriguez, Patient Engagement HIT,

Online provider reviews are often tied to strong patient-provider communication, with patients highlighting thorough procedure explanations when leaving five-star reviews.

The study, which looked at plastic surgeons in particular, also showed that clinician competence and good clinical outcomes are also important.

The rise of healthcare consumerism in recent years has impacted the way patients interact with providers. A growing preference for self-service options and digital engagement has heightened the need for a positive online provider presence.

The report, which examined around 5,210 Yelp reviews of plastic surgery providers from 49 cities across the United States, sheds light on what patients value most in their healthcare experiences

Unsurprisingly, surgical outcomes topped the list of factors influencing positive reviews for plastic surgery providers.

Patients seeking surgical services were keen to emphasize their satisfaction with both injectable and surgical outcomes, reinforcing that patient satisfaction hinges largely on whether their healthcare expectations were met.

Yet, patients did not only focus on outcomes. Five-star reviews emphasized the value of comprehensive and clear communication from physicians about procedures. Patients praised doctors who took time during initial consultations to answer all questions, explain the procedure in detail, and set realistic expectations about the recovery period.

“Patients with positive experiences emphasized having results that looked natural and matched the look they had discussed with the physician prior to surgery,” senior author Brent R. DeGeorge, MD, PhD, of the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, wrote:

“Patients felt most comfortable with physicians who gave thorough explanations of the procedures beforehand, often spending several hours over multiple consultation sessions.”

The report revealed that provider interaction is not the only determinant in shaping patient satisfaction. Interactions with office staff, scheduling difficulties, billing or insurance problems, and extended wait times significantly swayed whether patients left positive or negative reviews.

Past research has highlighted that lengthy wait times can be a turn-off for patients, emphasizing the importance of managing schedules to prevent delays.

Patients also gave low ratings to providers who were not cost-conscious.

Negative experiences at a provider’s office not only jeopardize patient satisfaction but can also tarnish the reputation of the provider among potential future clients, especially if negative feedback is shared online.

That can have consequences for patient volumes as more patients consult online reviews before picking a new provider.

A March 2023 survey revealed that 46 percent of patients lean on online reviews when choosing healthcare providers. As loyalty is becoming less of a deciding factor, an adverse patient experience can swiftly steer consumers to seek alternatives.

It may be helpful for providers to assess the factors that sway online provider reviews. One 2022 survey from Wakefield Research and Kyruus showed that a reputation for providing quality care ranks within the top five critical characteristics when patients assess potential providers.

With many patients relying on online reviews for provider selection, poor patient experience can easily provoke a shift in consumer choice.

The Wakefield Research/Kyruus report suggested that positive reviews could be the tipping point between success and failure for some organizations. Just over a quarter, or 26 percent of patients, will seek another provider after encountering three negative reviews. Moreover, 56 percent will dismiss a provider with an average rating of less than four stars.


Benefit Advisors & Employees - Want to know more?

Members: Please call the number on the back of your ID card or e-mail Clients: Contact your Client Relations Manager