The figures are out. Growing internet usage is contributing towards an increase in complaints against health care providers. Digital marketing for medical practitioners and health professionals is becoming more necessary.
The Australian Health Care Complaints Commission reported an overall increase of 16% in the number of complaints received last year and these figures have been steadily increasing for some time. In Queensland alone, there were more complaints about health services in 2015-2016 than ever before.
A study by Plymouth University, (following a similar trend in the UK), identified one of the key drivers behind this rise in health care complaints:
Increased usage of social media and other internet platforms has seen people become more accustomed to discussing their experiences in public spaces, and has also allowed information to be more easily accessed and exchanged.
Online reviews are a reality for businesses these days, whether we are talking about a restaurant owner, a tiler or a medical professional. The popularity of social media and online forums mean that a single mistake or isolated incident can rapidly snowball and cause massive damage to an individual’s reputation or brand.
The 2016 Sensis Social Media Report revealed that:
- Australians are spending more than 12 hours a week on social media alone and 58% of those users will read through online blog posts and reviews before deciding to make a purchase with a business.
- The number or posts and reviews being submitted by users has almost doubled in the last year, making it more prudent than ever for businesses to avoid negative reviews or deal with such feedback in a timely and professional manner.
- It also seems that a lot of businesses are still unsure about how to use social media effectively, with just over a quarter of small to medium (and just over a third of large) businesses claiming they have invested money in social media, but don’t know how much.
Patients are becoming better informed, taking increased ownership of their health, developing higher expectations and treating doctors with less deference than in the past. In addition to social media, there are several directory services such as LocalSearch, Google Maps and Yelp that allow ratings to be left, plus a growing number of online forums such as Whitecoat and RateMDs, providing easy pathways for a disgruntled patient to submit negative feedback across multiple platforms, within minutes.
If you lack an existing digital presence, it doesn’t take much for your identity online to become dominated by a few bad reviews on web forums and that is what will appear in search engine results when someone searches your name.
As is custom in today’s world, people are often more willing to be critical when they can remain anonymous or hide behind the mask of a pseudonym. This means that sometimes, the first you may learn about a poor experience someone has had with you or your business is by reading negative comments online. Stay tuned, as I will post another article soon with some advice on how to deal with negative online feedback or reviews.
In the meantime, if you’d like to discuss strengthening your business’s online profile, contact Top Gong Digital Marketing via our website.
2014 Plymouth University Study: “Understanding the Rise in Fitness to Practice Complaints from Members of the Public” – by Dr Julian Archer, Dr Sam Regan de Bere, Dr Marie Bryce, Dr Suzanne Nunn, Dr Nick Lynn, Dr Lee Coombes and Mr Martin Roberts.
HCCC 2016 Annual Report
Sensis 2016 Social Media Report