People take their healthcare needs seriously. Before making healthcare decisions, they go online to research their options, evaluate providers, and read reviews. Your online reputation influences their perception of your brand and determines if they’ll choose your healthcare organization. Your digital reputation is too important to neglect.

Hosted By:

Bryan Oram, AVP Enterprise Sales, Podium
Stephen Turchan, Regional Vice President, Yext
Lauren Leon, SVP Healthcare Marketing, Cardinal Digital Marketing

Watch the Recording:

Quotes From the Webinar:

Lauren: “The number one thing to do when responding to negative reviews is to stay calm and not get defensive. The public forum is not the place to defend; it is simply a place to be empathetic to the fact that they had this experience. Perception is reality.”

Steve: “If your business information isn’t structured properly for sites like Google, Bing, and various healthcare publishers like Vitals, BetterDoctor, etc., you’re not maximizing your digital presence, and you’re going to be at high risk of not showing up on search.”

Bryan: “Ultimately, the way that healthcare organizations can differentiate their brand has been anchored on the actual experience that they provide. What consumers are looking for in terms of that experience is actually a digital one, as they prefer digital experiences as much as possible.”


Read The Transcript:

Lauren Leone: Hi, everyone. Thank you for joining us on our digital reputation webinar. We’re just going to go ahead and kick things off here with a bit of a presentation. I will introduce my co-hosts, and then we’ll dive in. We appreciate you guys joining us. This webinar is going to be available on demand, you’ll be sent this information after we hang up today so just keep an eye out for that in your inbox. Without further ado, let’s go ahead and dive in. I want to make a few introductions.

I’ve worked with both of these gentlemen for many years on a number of shared clients helping to improve patient communications. Brian Oram is the AVP of Healthcare at Podium. Steve Turchan is the Regional Vice President at Yext. Two types of platforms that you’ve probably heard of before that Cardinal– We’ll put our name behind and our stamp of approval. We’re really excited to have these guys on the line.

You’re going to get to hear from both of them a little bit later in the presentation. We’re going to be live demoing some of our registrants so we thank you all for opting in to participate in that. Without further ado, let’s just dive into getting a better understanding of where reputation is today, why citations are important and how this plays into your holistic marketing strategy. We’re going to do a bit of a presentation, maybe about 15, 20 minutes, I’m going to walk you through some information, some tips and best practices, and then we’re going to hear directly from Steve and from Brian.

Before we really dive in, I like to just set the stage with where we are today in the healthcare marketing industry. Steve, let me pose this question to you first, and then I’m going to ask the same question to Brian. What have you seen changing in the healthcare industry? Why is this offsite presence so important in patient communications today?

Steve Turchan: Yes, absolutely and first and foremost, thank you so much for having me really excited to be here. I think when we talk about how the patient journey has changed, I think it’s not too dissimilar to most industries that we’ve seen out there, most retail will, at some point, even when things go back to normal, are going to have some sort of a hybrid model between digital and in person.

Things like restaurants, having a lot more carry out and take out than necessarily in person. That also goes for where people are trying to find you whether that be information about your healthcare clinic, looking for what services or products that you offer, in an area where you exist in what we’d like to call an organic or unbranded search. We’ve seen some statistics, and I’ll certainly talk about this later, but with COVID, that move to digitizing and meeting your patients in their new patient journey, which starts digitally, has only tremendously accelerated since the beginning of the pandemic.

Lauren: Awesome, thanks Steve, Brian, what’s your take on it? Where do you think the healthcare spaces today, what have you observed?

Bryan Oram: Again, thanks for having us on. We’ve observed similarities in what Steve said. I think that the consumerization of healthcare is very real, and it’s been occurring for the last five to seven years. I think we have Amazon and Google to thank for that, but consumers in general, whether it’s in retail, or healthcare, or home services, whatever it might be, they are demanding convenience, and they’re going to their phones more than ever before to find the best products or the best care for them.

What we see specifically in healthcare, over the last few years has been a massive increase in the number of people searching for the best care near them in organic and unbranded searches. What they’re basing their decisions upon, is much less their insurance network or what they were relying upon. What they rely on now is the rating that they see in that unbranded search.

That’s one of the main trends that we’ve noticed, especially during this past year. What a crazy year it’s been, but during this past year, the number of searches has only increased and the amount of patients that are relying on digital channels for information and for validation of decisions has heightened as well.

Lauren: Absolutely, I couldn’t have said it better. We’re going to dive in a little bit to some of the ways that you all, our listeners, can react to this situation. I’m going to give a little bit of a 101, 201 on citations, we just talked about why does it matter, right? Then we’re going to dive in and get a little bit deeper into strategies. Everyone has the research out there, I think we already got some stats from Steve and Brian, and they are going to speak a little bit to the proprietary numbers that they’ve seen in their research.

94% of patients are using or evaluating providers through the reviews online. That doesn’t necessarily mean that’s the entry point, but at some point in that journey, whether they were referred from a primary care provider, and they want to validate that decision, or they have nowhere to start, and they’re just going to Google, somewhere in that journey, 94% of patients will look you up online. This is the most important thing that you can do, if you haven’t started your digital marketing journey yet, consider this may be the first and most important thing that you look at.

85% of consumers are trusting reviews as much as a personal recommendation, so if a friend or a sister were to tell them, “Hey, this is my dermatologist, this is my OB, you should go to them.” They are trusting what these people that they don’t know online are saying. They’re trusting it because there’s volume of validation behind it. If this many people are going to consider that in their journey, and you’re not mindful of it, you’re going to lose those opportunities.

A few more stats for you in how patients are looking at these metrics. Over a third of patients are using this as the very first step so they haven’t even asked a friend, they haven’t looked in their insurance provider to see who’s available, they’re just going straight to Google more than a third, this is the number one interaction that they’re having with you. Then you have to think about the flip side. It’s not just how do I create patient preference, but what about those that are avoiding you because of your reviews.

You’re deterring people that maybe already made the decision to go to you, you won their business, you earned it, you got the referral and then they’re avoiding you, because of what someone else has said online. Think about both how do I generate positive, but how do I also make sure that I don’t have a negative representation that’s going to cause me to lose patients?

Just a couple of reasons why you should really care about this, but what I want to give you is some tips on how to maintain consistency and control of what we’re calling your off-site presence. This is the entities that are not controlled by you on your website, but what else is said about you online. Then we’re going to dive into reviews here in a few minutes.

Just a really simple overview, you’re going to hear term citation, you’re going to hear the term listing, they’re synonymous. What you need to know is that citations or listings are key factors in local SEO.

Google or other entities out there are verifying what you tell them via your website, by making sure that that is also the consistent information listed on other entities throughout the web. What you want to do is make sure that you list your information on these reputable directories in the same way that you listed on your website. This is going to include business name, address, phone number, you want to be consistent, if you’re going to spell out sweet on your website, spell it out on Google. Just create those small micro trust signals with your prospective patient. Then as you know, the additional layer of complexity here is that these citation and review sites have the ability for patients to leave honest and open feedback. Those are the elements that go into just a citation. Defining what we’re talking about here.

Where do patients find their healthcare providers? There are going to be two different types of citation sites that you’re going to see out there. What I’ve got here for you are just a few of the top ones. You’ve probably been to a Healthgrades, you’ve probably been to is Zocdoc to start your search, but you’ve also probably been on Facebook, or Yelp, or Google to start that search. Think about it in two ways. Think about your general geography-based listings, what are the top 10 citations that I need to make sure I’m in because someone searching for a provider near them is going to return one of those results.

Then think about your vertical. What vertical are you in? Are there niche directories for urgent care, for hospitals? At healthcare industry as a whole has countless listing sites that you could be in. Here’s the top 10 by traffic source that patients are using to find new providers. You want to look for an option that gives you coverage on all or most of these, that’s why we have decided to work with Yext because they have direct connections into a lot of these platforms.

Again, other things that you want to look for when you’re picking a listing provider. Real-time updates. A lot of providers out there are going to talk about, “We can push your information to Google, we can push your information to Yelp.” But are they going to do so through an aggregator? It’s going to take weeks to get responses, it’s going to take some time for that information to get picked up. Or, do they have a direct connection into the platform so that if I need to change my phone number, I can see that information live in 10 minutes after I’ve made that switch? You really want to have that type of control. This is how your patients are finding you.

Look for ways that you can perhaps control user-generated changes. Make sure that if a user goes in and says no, this isn’t the phone number, but it is the right phone number, that you get notified of that and that you have the ability to control the information. Then look for a partner that is going to allow you to suppress duplicates. We mentioned user-generated content, users will go out there all the time on Google and say this business exists at this place.

If you are controlling a listing and a duplicate is made, you want a partner that can say, “Hey, there’s a duplicate out there, this is where it is. Let’s go ahead and suppress it. Let’s merge it with the correct listing so you have one well-managed entity.” Those are just some things I want you to look for when you’re thinking about how am I going to manage my listings, what tools do I need to use.

Then once you’ve made that decision, let’s start thinking about what an audit will look like. How do I know if I even need a solution that’s this robust? There’s a lot of ways that wrong information can get out there. Think about, have you ever moved locations, even a suite number within your building? Have you ever shared an office space that there were other businesses in and they rotated out? Is Google going to get confused because your business building has 10 companies in it and you’re just one of them? Have you ever changed your name, even a small change? Have you ever changed your number from an 1800 number to a local or vice versa, or maybe on the weekends, you swapped out the phone number with your cell phone, if you’re the practice provider so that you can get the calls on the weekend. Those changes are going to get pushed out to various directories and you may find inconsistencies over time.

Again, if you have an agency managing your listings, maybe you lost a little bit of control there. If you said yes to any of these questions, I want you to think about using a listing provider, because you probably have incorrect information out there. This is just an example of an entity and how information can get out there in the wrong way. The phone number is listed wrong maybe because it’s a tracking number. Maybe it’s a number of another business that happens to be in their building. Or, you start to find that your address is right but the business name is wrong, someone else claimed it. Keep an eye on that.

The worst one you can possibly have, if you have people coming into your location, is the wrong phone number. A patient shows up for an appointment, they’re in the wrong place. They’re going to blame that on you even though it’s not your fault. You’re probably going to have some friction around missed appointments, the cost of doing that. Just keep those things in mind.

Then optimizing. Claiming them, getting control of them is one thing, but then how do I take advantage of all of the rich content that I can put out there about my brand on these citation sites?

We talked about NAP information, Name, Address, Phone number, get that basic information. Then think about other information you can add. Your business description. Do you know what the top keywords are that match your services that people are searching? Put those in your description, put them at the front of the description. Don’t make it just about you and how long you’ve been in business, make it about what you can provide to the patient. Linking directly to the corresponding page. You have an option and you’ve been on Google where they can actually click through to view the website. If they are on a provider listing, drop them on the page about that provider instead of your homepage. Get them to the information they need as soon as possible with the least amount of friction.

Consistent categories. Look at what categories the engine has available. You’re not just a medical provider, maybe you’re a psychologist. Don’t list medical providers, list yourself as a psychologist so when someone searches for that non-branded query, you heard Steven Bryan talk about non-branded searches, that is how you’re going to trigger your practice to show up for one of those results.

Then think about photos. I read a stat, and Steve, maybe you have a number on this, but I think it’s 10 or more photos are going to significantly improve the visibility of your listing. The inside and outside of your practice. When I pull up to the building, do I see a building that matches what I saw in your listing? Okay, I’m in the right place. Now I want to see what’s on the inside. Is it clean? Does the lobby look safe? Does it have the amenities that I need? Is it wheelchair accessible if that’s something that’s important to me? Does it have the comfort elements that go into a practice? Is there water or coffee in the waiting room? Am I going to have a private room when I go to meet with my provider? Provide pictures that answer these questions for your prospective patients.

A little tip, when you’re naming your files before you upload them, think about the alt text on those images. Put in this is a picture of a patient’s room, and it is for psychology practice. Just think about putting some terms labeling that photo properly.

Those are some tips on listings, getting the right information in the right place. Once you have that established, let’s start talking about, okay, now I really want to get visible, what can I do. Steve and Brian will talk about this later, but what I don’t want you to do is start generating reviews to a listing that doesn’t even have the right information. Just take that first step, get the information right, and then we’ll talk about reviews. That’s really part two of success.

A few more stats for you, again, this is from some Cardinals research, and I’m sure eventually Brian and Steve will give us some of their information. We want to impress on you that both the quantity and the quality of the star ratings are equally important. I’ve got here something easy for you to remember, which is the rule of seven. 74% of patients want to see at least seven ratings before they’ll trust you. If you have 1, 2, 3 ratings, think about at least getting that over seven. I’m talking about for a local practice. But, that is just the starting point, don’t stop at seven. I want to see with 100 reviews, seven is a minimum, that is a starting point.

Then 77% of patients want to see at least seven comments before they believe that it’s a trend. One person stating that it’s clean and the provider had great bedside manner is not enough to believe that this is actually a pattern and this is representative of the experience I’m going to have. You want to generate a consistent path of patients who are saying the same thing. There’s nothing like great operations, great service to make sure that that’s what happens. You’re not going to get that if you’re not out there asking patients for their feedback.

The rule of 7. Minimum of 7 stars, minimum of 7 reviews saying the same thing over and over again. I’ve got an example here for you, I was looking for an eye care clinic in Maine. Which of these am I going to choose? I’ve got 77 reviews, 4.9 stars versus 2.5 with 17, it’s a no-brainer, Midcoast Vision is going to win this business every time. Reviews are going to impact patient preference, they’re also going to affect how you show up in the actual results. You’re going to see here in this screenshot, there’s a number of different ways that patients are searching. They’re searching geographically, near me, provider in the zip code, or provider in this city.

They’re searching for branded searches, we talked about branded queries, by name if they already know you. A lot of searches now are containing best or highest rated, I don’t just want someone that can provide eye care or urgent care near me, I want the best person to provide urgent care near me. Think about your star ratings are a direct impact on whether you show up for best or highest rated, or the next guy shows up for it. You’ve got here, even now Google has added I want to filter or sort these by rating or by hours of availability, or whether I’ve been there before.

It’s not just proximity anymore. It’s not just “am I in the right place, is my business located closest to them”, but “am I the best provider”. Then we’re going to talk a little bit in more detail about structured data when Steve presents but you’ve got other items like I’m looking for an urgent care open now, I’m looking for an urgent care that has Cigna or accepts insurance. I’m looking for an urgent care that I can get a virtual visit at. All of these are items. This is information that you can plug into your listing so that Google knows that you provide these services, you have these amenities to provide to your patient. Think about the structure data that you can put into these listings and how it will help you to get more business.

Some tips for getting positive reviews and I’m going to ask Brian, our expert, to give us some more tips down the road, but normalize asking the patient for a review in person they’re checking out at the desk, just simply say, “We would love your feedback.” Talk about how important it is to your business. If you think we provided great care today, I would love it if you could tell your friends and mention it online. I’m not forcing someone who didn’t have a great experience to go out and lie about their experience. I just want my happy patients to go and tell their friends. Train your staff with a script, give them the language that they should use so that it feels consistent and that your brand is carried through every time there’s an interaction. Identify key points in the journey where it’s appropriate to ask for feedback. It’s not when they’re talking about their bill and try to make sure that it gets paid. It’s after the experience when they’re checking out, the patient has been seen, all the other boxes are ticked. Now is the right time to ask for it. Send the request as close to the patient interaction as you can. It’s fresh on their mind. I just walked out of my dentist appointment and as I’m walking to the car, I’m checking what text messages and emails I missed in the 30 minutes that I was in the chair, and up pops this request.

Did you have a great experience at the dentist? Please share your feedback. Super relevant. I just walked out of the office. I know that I had a great experience and it’s going to take me one click to give that feedback. I’m going to do. It two hours later when I’m back at work, I’m in a meeting and that text pops up. I’m going to dismiss it and I’m going to move on. Think about how you can deliver that message in a timely manner related to the experience. Send it where they spend the most time mobile device. I can not encourage this enough. I think gone are the days of email requests, think about where they’re spending their time and that is on mobile. Can you deliver that message where it’s most convenient to them?

Make it as easy as possible. One-click link. Don’t make them click through to a page that then makes them click through to another page. Then they have to sort through to find where the link is. The Podium team has some really great technology that makes this one click for the patient. We’ll talk about that in a minute. But that’s what I’m looking for, the least friction possible.

Let’s go ahead and just talk a little bit about the tech. I don’t want to steal Brian’s thunder but I talked about how to pick the right provider for listings. How do you pick the right provider for review technology? Can they integrate with your CRM, your patient management system, your electronic health record system? That is how you’re going to get that automated message. That’s how I got my dentist to send me that text. As soon as I walked out, they knew I had just checked out because I was in their system. I was marked as a seen patient and I got that text automatically.

That integration is key. If you’re able to find a partner that supports your platform, that should be the one that you go with. Think about whether your provider can offer both a review request and an NPS survey. I know a lot of you out there in the healthcare space value NPS, it helps you to improve your operations. Can they do both? I mentioned mobile. Can they provide the feedback requests via text message, like the example I’ve got here, and do they then also provide the ability for you to respond and review those reviews in a single platform? Can you get back to your patients and interact with them in a two-way communication? That is going to be something we’re going to talk about. It’s extremely important.

Thank you to all of our registrants who signed up. I wanted to call out an example of where I felt listings and reviews were just executed perfectly. We had a registering Keystone hospice. What I was doing with some searches for the best hospice, they’re located in Eagle, Idaho. I use some of the language that we talked about. I’m not just looking for a hospice provider, I want the best one.

I did this search and Keystone came up number one. Here’s a zoomed-in version of their listing and what it looks like. The reason Keystone came up for my best result was because they had the most reviews, 90 reviews, all five stars. Their listing was really well populated with information. There was consistent feedback around the quality of the care, the quality of the providers, the interaction with the care managers and the case managers.

This is an example, guys, take a look at this. You can go ahead and search for them when we’re off this call and use them as an example. I thought they did a really great job with structured information too. Check insurance information. This is a bit of information you can give to Google, that just helps the patient or prospective customer to find more information. When I clicked this check insurance button here, what I got was immediate feedback on all of the provider or the health care providers that were accepted by Keystone. This is their full listing here behind, and this was a pop-up that showed me and allowed me to really easily verify that this is someone that I could reach out to because if I’m going to be covered. This is just an example. Thank you to Keystone for being such a great example of how to put all of this together.

The last thing I want to talk about, I’ve got just two minutes, and then we’re going to jump into our live demos, is monitoring reviews. It’s one thing to get out there and ask for feedback, but how do you protect your good name over time? You’ve put a lot of effort into generating it. One thing I would highly recommend, and the Podium software allows you to do this, is to identify someone within your organization who is going to be responsible for this. Are you delegating this out to each practice and the admins are responsible for this, or are you going to manage this centrally if you have a multi-location business? Regardless, create a response template for communication. You have, how do I respond to negative reviews? How do I respond to positive reviews? Make sure that the language is consistent.

The one thing I don’t want you to do is to make it feel cookie-cutter. Find ways that you can put their name in there, acknowledge the gripe that they had with your business, but make sure that your response is templated so that they know how to get in touch with you and that it is a consistent message. Look at tools that help you monitor and pull this all into one place. If you have bandwidth issues, which we heard in our recent healthcare survey, marketing bandwidth is one of the biggest problems that you all are facing today. At least consider focusing on your negative reviews first. Then if you have time, you can also get in there and respond to some of your positive reviews. The tools out there that, that help you with review monitoring and responses allow you to sort by needs attention.

They’ll flag reviews that are of a certain quality. You can easily get in there and find which ones you need to focus on first. If you are able to respond to positive reviews, that’s great. It’s going to still send strong signals to Google. Take those positive reviews, and promote them in an anonymous way of course. I’m not suggesting that you identify any of your patients, but find ways that you can take that language, and maybe it’s using it in a social media ad that talks about how your practice provides great care. Take the positive and run with them.

Then lastly, some tips for responding to negative reviews. The number one thing is to stay calm and not get defensive. The public forum is not the place to defend the bedside manner, defend the long wait times. It is simply a place to be empathetic to the fact that they did have this experience, perception is reality. Be mindful of that. Take what they have to say with heart. Find a way to take it offline. Suggest a phone call, give them an email that they can send their longer description to. Find a way to interact with them. Do not send a response that elicits response after response. You don’t want to have a thread between you and the patient in a public forum. Right the perceived wrong if there’s a true wrong, such as, “This business wasn’t in the right location, I was so angry.” If it was the right location, it’s okay to say, “This is where we’re located. This is our business information. I’m sorry that you had that experience.”

Never divulge patient information. Do not look them up and then say, “I’m sorry that you had a bad experience with so-and-so about your appointment about your root canal.” Do not get into their care, do not talk about why they were there. Just simply give them a forum to get in touch with you. Then, reflect on the feedback and look for opportunities to improve patient experience. It’s not good enough to just acknowledge it publicly. If it’s a comment on bedside manner, and it’s a trend, have an internal meeting with your team and talk about how you can improve that experience.

Just a couple of tips, I’m going to leave you all with. Tell patients how important their feedback is. If you are a small practice, send a personalized message. Maybe it’s a handwritten card. Maybe it’s an email. Maybe it’s using technology like Podium to send a text message. Find a way that works for you at the size of your organization. Send your review requests via SMS, easy to access link, reduce the friction. Add a review call to action to your email signature. If you’re a patient liaison and you’re emailing with patients frequently, toss that link in your signature, give them a link to Google, ask them for feedback that way. Maybe it’s a matter of adding a link in your website footer, or somewhere on your page, on your website so that they have another access point. Promote your positive reviews on social media as a way to ask for more. Lastly, listen to what the patients say and implement that at the point of care.

Like I said, I’m going to send this presentation out to everyone. You’ll have access to all of this information and some of our great examples of Keystone hospice. I want to go ahead and jump into live audits here. We’re going to do two demos for you guys today. The first is going to be with Steve at Yext, and then we’re going to let Brian at Podium do a demo as well.

Steve, I’m going to turn off my presentation, I’m going to let you share the screen and we’re excited. Go ahead and give us an intro to the product. Give us an intro to the organization that you’re going to be demoing, and then we’ll dive in.

Steve: Yes, absolutely, before I hop into it, just really quickly, I didn’t really have any slides that I wanted to go through, I wanted to mainly walk through live examples. I find that’s always the most powerful for a forum like this. Just really quickly, to everyone that might not know, Yext is a global organization and we are a search technology platform. Whether that be, basically insert business here, if anyone’s looking for any type of service product that you may provide off of your website, the searching sites like Google, Bing, could be healthcare publishing sites, you want that information to be consistent and accurate.

We help you do that. That allows you to show up when they’re actually searching for you by name, as well as show up and give yourself the biggest chance to be that top organic result when they’re looking for what it is you do.

Even further, we’ve taken that step further and have a similar, almost Google like experience on your own website, being able to sift through and to have long-tail queries and searches for things that you all offer, allowing those patients to find what they’re looking for and if they’re new, get them to quickly book an appointment. If they’re otherwise people that are looking to pay their bill, asking about what are the side effects of a certain medication or procedure, and they are potentially bogging down your call centers or your front desk folks, being able to get them the answer as quickly as possible to help them self serve is hugely important. That was how I wanted to set the stage. I will go ahead and share my screen here.

Lauren: Steve, not to detract from your presentation, a question. We had a question come through the live chat. Someone asked they operate in three states 23 locations. They wanted your opinion on, is it better to have each location manage their listings or do you think that it should be done globally? Do you have a recommendation on best practice on how to approach that or maybe what some of the companies that you work with are doing?

Steve: Absolutely, I think that best practice, in general, is consistency, right? Having something in a centralized location, making sure that things are being consistent, we want to make sure that– At least even the format of the names, we see inconsistencies where they might have a certain location, have the location name plus the address within the listing, or some may be having misspellings, or they miss the comma Inc, or, LLC, whatever you see. We’re huge believers of keeping that in a central location and that’s actually one of the benefits of Yext is you can manage all of those global brand listings within one central tool.

Lauren: I appreciate that. I think the answer is whatever works for your organization as long as you have a strategy, and you are all agreed upon it. If you’re going to put it out to the location level, sometimes there’s just not capacity at the global level to do it. Give them some tips, maybe put together a playbook so that you’re all on the same page.

Steve: Absolutely. Exactly and whatever works for your organization is ultimately the right answer, back to what Lauren said. Really, we want to give you tools like this to help you even further. Tools like Yext and other ones do have specific role-based access controls. If you want those folks to be able to go in and they’re the ones that manage it, that’s totally fine. You can actually give them a login as well.

I think when we take a step back, really, the patient journey first and foremost starts with the question. The patient journey has evolved quite a bit. Especially for myself and fellow millennials out there and upcoming Gen Z and probably Gen X a little bit older, we’re not typically going to our primary care provider with an issue with our leg or an issue with our stomach to get referred to a gastroenterologist or get referred to an orthopedist. We like most things we’re looking for just like if you were to look for a hamburger, and go on Google or Yelp for that. If you’re having an issue, you’re going directly to sites like Google to type that, whatever your issue is, and looking for a service or a location that you can go to. Really, what we think about today in 2021, is that we are seeing also when it comes to the questions that they’re looking for, folks are not just saying, broken ankle, doctor near me.

They’re actually asking longtail questions, not these keyword searches, even further.

You probably have all noticed this through the evolution of Google’s user interface, but no longer do folks expect a list of links to sift through and to click through. They actually expect an answer. We want to provide you as that answer on a site like Google and with that same logic and that that stream of thought, we want to provide an answer for the questions that your patients are looking for when they’re actually on your website. I think that it’s very imperative that not only your health center is showing up or your business showing up in a branded search, but even more importantly in an unbranded search. Anecdotally, when someone has a sports injury, they’re not going to remember the orthopedic practice billboard that they drove by on the interstate a couple of weeks ago and what that practice was called, maybe even what the number was, they’re going to go directly to Google or sites like that.

As I mentioned kind of earlier, anecdotally, I had a pretty bad Achilles injury couple of years ago in San Francisco. I was living in San Francisco for three years. I normally am very healthy. I didn’t have a primary care doctor. I don’t know of any orthopedic surgeons in the area. So, what did I do? I immediately went to Google. That is incredibly important that that’s happening.

That is not even something that is just an anecdote. There’s significant statistics around that. The takeaway I want everyone to have today before I really jump into this is if your business information isn’t structured properly for sites like Google, Bing, various healthcare publishers like Vitals, BetterDoctor, etcetera, you’re not maximizing your digital presence, and you’re going to be at high risk of not showing up on search.

Why is that important? This is an older snapshot, but I bet it’s probably increased even more since then, but from July to September of 2020 alone, we saw a year over year increase, 80% increase of healthcare near me searches on sites like Google. If 80% of that traffic is coming from search, where are you spending 80% of your digital time and effort and energy? It should be where the eyeballs are.

One of the things that I quickly wanted to show here, and this is the first thing that we look at, and I think that’s part of this audit that many you may do after this presentation, but that’s understanding, what do my listings look like in the publisher network today? Instead of having to go to,, Yext actually offers a free tool where you can plug in and do a business listing scan.

Today, I’m going to be walking through Elica Health Centers. I know Elica, I believe some of the folks are on the line today. Thank you very much for being a great volunteer here. I wanted to point this out that when we’re going through here, as Lauren mentioned, all of these things and even seemingly little changes or little differences are very, very important. Notice, Google sees this listing as Elica Centers – Arden Arcade. It also doesn’t have a listing at all on a site like Yahoo. We’re seeing inconsistency in phone numbers, we’re seeing consistency in addresses.

Some of you might be saying, “Listen, most of the people go to Yahoo anyway, who cares about any of these other sites?” The reason that you should care is that Google is at the end of the day, a matchmaker. Google wants to present the best result for the question that someone is asking. They also, in the nanosecond, but they scrub, these are other publishing websites to say, “Does Yahoo agree? Does Facebook agree? Does Bing agree?” It’s really important and it’s part of that trust factor that does allow you to then rank higher and help with SEO.

I’m just going to do a simple search. I know that Elica offers some primary care, want to search for it near their location. What we see is this. Obviously, I’m not seeing Elica here and this is already a problem. While we know that primary care is an incredibly competitive industry or competitive specialty rather, we want to at least put you in the best position to show up as those answers.

An example that I want to show you of a Yext customer and what the benefit of structuring your data in a way that Google can best understand and by way, trust, is one of our customer’s IHA Health. I’m doing an unbranded search of, again, something incredibly competitive, which is primary care near Canton, Michigan. I want to point out here that IHA shows up at the top of this list. This is completely an organic search result. There are times where a Yext customer or you, or whomever might be second or third. The main point that we want here is the amount of folks that are clicking on these three and not actually expanding this list or scrolling further is pretty significant. I want to say upwards of 80% of folks click on one of these three as what they end up landing on.

Again, I think it’s incredibly important to get folks to your website. Now, really quickly, I’ll wrap things up here, but even further, not only structuring your information with a list of specialties and what you offer as well as your locations and help with a search like this, but it’s important to also beef up those listings.

You want to look for a listing provider that understands your specialty in healthcare and has fields like insurances accepted, languages spoken, types of procedures done, things like that. When I type in, primary care doctor who speaks Spanish, near Canton, Michigan, we still want to make sure that you’re showing up because Google is, again, trying to match you with the right listing.

The last thing I quickly wanted to touch on is once folks get to your website, I think this is something that is the next big thing to tackle, and it’s helping with conversions and/or getting the patients the information that they are looking for. If I am on their website– Again, I’m a millennial, I see a search bar, I’m not someone that’s going to be clicking in through. I just have a quick question, I need a primary care appointment in Arden-Arcade. I’m not really going to sift through this. I see a search bar. Okay, great. I go to this search bar, I’m going to type in primary care in Arden-Arcade, then I hit search.

Looking at the results here, I see primary care, I see Arden-Arcade, but nothing really is telling me what I’m looking for, I then might potentially bounce back to Google and now go to one of your competitors.

Now, what if the experience to be like this? IHA is a Yext listing customer. I clicked on this link right here, it brought me to their page. Let’s say, I want an appointment with– I’m a high-intent patient. I know what I’m looking for. I know what I want. I want to book a primary care appointment with a doctor who accepts my insurance, which is Aetna. If I go ahead and do that, the great thing here is that this will show me the locations. My internet is moving a little slowly here today. Apologies. This will show me the locations, but I want to show you how smart this search can be.

If I type in an ad provider and then enter the search again, that the tool again is smart enough to know that we’re looking for healthcare professionals that are in primary care and who accepts Aetna. How we do that is with our proprietary natural language processing and artificial intelligence technology to make sure that we combine that structured data through your database that we’re looking for with the sentiment of what that patient is looking for. I hope that was helpful. With that, I’ll turn it back to you.

Lauren: I appreciate it. I’m so thankful to Elica. Thank you all for letting us demo you here. I’m going to hand it over to Bryan and we’re going to run through the Podium platform. While you’re loading up Bryan, a question from our chat. One of the people asked, and this is perhaps a bit of a delicate situation, but, “I’m receiving a number of negative reviews from a customer, they’re enlisting the help of their friends to come on and blast us. How do you recommend that you engage with a patient like that to take it offline? Do you have any tips?”

Bryan: Yes. Unfortunately, this happens all too often, where a disgruntled patient, or maybe even a family member of the patient that visited, decides it’s on them to solve the problem, and typically, they take the wrong approach. There are several ways to handle this. Obviously, trying to take it offline is absolutely critical. We definitely recommend sending a template and response with ways for them to get ahold of you, sending them a quick text, letting them know that you’re there for them to help.

The other thing though is what that does to your listing and your reputation is fairly unfortunate, especially, if you have a poor quantity of reviews, that can actually have a major detrimental impact on the way that you are found and chosen online.

The other way to combat something like that is to drown it out with positive feedback from other patients. One is taking the conversation offline, doing your best to solve the problem with that particular patient. The other is, don’t forget to continue asking for feedback from the majority of your patients, which are going to be happy patients. Because I think often, the worry is, “Well, we’re going to have more people leave bad feedback,” and so they don’t start to request reviews. All that does is hurt your brand more because now this person has a larger voice online than they actually should. Does that make sense?

Lauren: Yes, that’s perfect. Bryan, I’m working with your organization on a multi local client right now, and 94% of the reviews that come in through our requests are four or five stars. It’s not that you’re just inviting negative feedback, the negative feedback is what comes naturally, it’s the positive that doesn’t come unless you ask for it. I think that’s perfectly said.

Bryan: Yes, you’re spot on. Well, excellent. I’m going to go ahead and share my screen. Let me know if you can see that.

Lauren: Awesome. We got it.

Bryan: Okay, perfect. Well, thanks for the question, and feel free to chime in. If there’s more questions in chat, I would prefer to answer questions than to talk through what I have, but I am excited to speak to this today. I do want to just reiterate a few things, Lauren, that you mentioned, which is that we really are competing in a world of on-demand everything. Consumers– by nature, patients have been trained to think in a world of on-demand services like in Amazon, where you search for the best product, you see highly rated and reviewed product and you choose it and it’s on your doorstep the next day.

It’s similar with the way that people look for their care. The few trends that we’re seeing in health care, and then I’ll get specifically to the audit that we performed on one of our listeners today, a few trends here. One is the way that patients are searching for and choosing their care has evolved, as mentioned earlier. Patients’ expectations have changed in the way that they pay for their care, in the way that they go through their entire journey. Ultimately, the way that healthcare organizations can differentiate their brand has been anchored on the actual experience that they provide.

What consumers are looking for in terms of that experience are a few things, but what we know now, especially, due to what happened last year, is they’re looking for digital experiences and they prefer digital experiences as much as possible. A few statistics to review really fast, 400% rise in best healthcare searches, so best health care service near me, best OB/GYN, best vein clinic near me. What pops up on Google is the highest-rated, and we’re seeing a massive uptick in the quantity of patients performing those searches. The other thing that we’re seeing is that 71% of patients prefer to actually schedule digitally, or get in touch with that particular practice in a digital fashion, whether that’s through chat, through text messaging, through scheduling online. Then lastly 70% of patients actually prefer to choose a provider that offers follow-up via a digital channel like text messaging. We know that digital experiences are preferred. Now attracting new patients has to start somewhere. In this case, it really does start with a search. Local searches, as I mentioned, have increased 400% in the last five years. I’m going to get into a bit of a use case with Modern Vascular, who’s listening in and had asked that we do a bit of an audit. I’ll get into that.

What we’ve seen in terms of the keys to getting considered online, especially on a site like Google, which has over 70% of all search traffic is going to be on Google for healthcare-related searches. [inaudible 00:50:54] that we have these things nailed is critical. I would say even before these five things, you’ve got to make sure that you have your listings information accurately portrayed online which we’ve already talked through.

Here’s the five keys in terms of getting rated and ranked on Google. You’ve got to make sure that you have an overall star rating that is positive. The next is your quality of reviews, quantity of reviews, frequency of reviews, and then if you are responding to those reviews. Those are the five critical aspects of your overall rating that’s going to change the way that Google ranks you online and it’s going to make a massive difference. The other thing is, again, I mentioned what patients are looking for. They’re also looking for those digital experiences to start a conversation.

90% of consumers prefer to engage with a local business using text messaging or another messaging app and 88% of consumers who search for business are trying to connect within the next 24 hours. They are searching with intent to book an appointment, with intent to make a purchase immediately. Really quickly, we ran a quick analysis on Modern Vascular who is on the phone today, I believe. What we found was a very, very positive rating. Modern Vascular offers exceptional care in each of their locations. They have over 300 total reviews and on average monthly, they receive about 3.5 reviews coming in.

Now, in terms of offering options for them to chat via Google or chat via their website, we didn’t find chat options available for a call to action that is preferred by patients, but what we do see is a positive rating. What I wanted to do is showcase how Google looks at this rating because I think there’s a few things to point out here.

The first is let’s say we perform a search for the best vascular clinic near Glendale, Arizona, which is where one of their locations is. Unfortunately, they don’t show up in the top three. Now again, I mentioned their average rating is a 4.8, which is exceptional. One of the issues though, is that each of the locations, I believe the average is around 10 to 12 reviews per location and that’s where the quantity of reviews really has a massive impact on your overall ranking on Google. Arizona Vein & Laser Institute of Glendale shows up with a 4.8 rating and 56 reviews. Lauren shared earlier an actual customer of Podium that had over 600 reviews and was at the top of the map pack for both of their locations in that local geo.

That’s the type of rating that we would expect and that we’re working to make sure is possible for users of Podium or just for those that are looking to optimize their digital reputation is that there has to be an approach of, “We know that we’re providing exceptional care. Our patients are rating us highly, but how do we encourage patients to leave that feedback?” The way that Podium does that is by, and Lauren, I think already mentioned this, but it’s through integrating with your system of record to automatically reach out via text message to that patient.

We can fire off a text directly following that visit. They can simply follow that review link, say yes, and instantly they’re logged onto their Google page where they can leave a review and post it. The reason that automating reviews is so critical is because those who have had a positive experience expected to have that positive experience. For whatever reason, it’s not likely they’re going to take that little card in the lobby with the QR code and actually follow the QR code and leave a review.

A lot of people try to do that. They try to ask them for a review, but typically you’re only going to see a small quantity of reviews come through, unless you’re able to take some of the manual work out of it and really automate that process. Again, it’s an automated text message that allows them to leave the review. Now beyond that there has to be a way for you to actually manage your reputation which is responding to reviews.

Again, Lauren, you mentioned this, but the ability to filter between– whether it’s Google or Healthgrades or Facebook, the ability to filter between negative and positive reviews and go through those comments, leaving replies directly from a centralized platform is critical. Then the last thing that I would mention is providing an avenue where patients can actually reach out to you via some sort of chat. Typically, a patient is going to be– and I’ll just show what this looks like in a mobile view, typically a patient is going to be on their mobile phone. There needs to be a way for them to actually have a conversation with you.

What we offer is the ability for them to actually specifically chat with your group, with your location, ask a question, and receive a reply and ultimately open up a digital communication window with that patient. Inside of Podium it would look like this. It would come into the actual dashboard, allow you to answer the question that particular patient has, help them get scheduled via messaging back and forth.

I did just want to call out those a couple of things, but back to the importance of optimizing for these digital channels, the goal here is to make sure that we’re engaging with the right channel at the right time so that patients, not only find you as highly rated, they click on your business listing, they consider your business, they’re able to then have a call to action to actually start a conversation with your location, book an appointment, send a payment receiver of your request and ultimately leave a review and close the loop there. That’s the ultimate goal.

How do we optimize the experience that differentiates our healthcare organization from the other competitors nearby? One, is you’ve got to show up the highest rated on Google. Two, give them a solid call to action that is a digital call to action that allows them to either book or chat or schedule with you. Then three is, let’s make sure that we’re requesting feedback and allowing that feedback to be publicly posted on sites like Google to close the loop with the patient, but ultimately help your online brand.

Lauren: Bryan, one of the members chatted to us, is the messaging live in real-time? If someone does engage with that chat, is that something that you can get real-time?

Bryan: It is, yes. We have APIs with Google, Facebook, et cetera. Based on those real-time APIs, we’re able to pull in the feedback as well as the reviews into the platform instantly which also allows you to then respond to those patients via that medium as well. Now, keep in mind because Podium isn’t an interaction management platform, we are a text message-based platform, a social media-based platform, so you can also have other avenues of outreach for these patients. You can directly text message them using Podium as well to either thank them for their feedback or more importantly tackle some of those harder issues that come through.

Lauren: I have one final question through the chat. I know we’re just coming up on time and people are going to be dropping. We’ve collectively, the three of us, worked on a project that involves both providers and listings. There’s a great question of, do I need to just focus on my locations or do I need to focus on my providers too? Let me get a parting thought from each of you on that topic, and then we will close it out for today.

Bryan: I’ll hop in there really quick. It is critical to optimize for both. The reason I say that is the searches that come through on Google, you can’t control what a patient is looking for. What you can control is what they see when they do that search. If they’re searching for the best OB/GYN near them, it’s not likely that the clinic is going to pop up. What’s more likely is that the actual physician listings are going to be showcased there. It’s critical that your OBGs have a very, very positive rating online that their listings show up as highly rated. Now, if I were doing a search for the best clinic near me, clinics are what’s going to show up and those need to be rated very highly as well. That’s my two cents and what I would recommend.

Lauren: Steve, any thoughts?

Steve: I was just about to say, I couldn’t have said it any better than my cohort here, but definitely some things I want to add on to that would be, you basically just want to maximize the amount of times that you’re showing up. Even further for those who are multi-specialty groups, that’s how you are really going to help show up when folks are looking for the orthopedists, the cardiologists, the behavioral therapists within your group over those that might even have that in their title or in their listing name.

Lauren: Awesome. Can’t thank you both enough for joining us. For everyone who listened in, this’ll be available on demand. Thank you both. We appreciate it. Until next time.

Steve: Awesome. What a pleasure. Thank you.

Bryan: Thank you.

[01:00:54] [END OF AUDIO]


Alex Membrillo


Alex Membrillo is the CEO of Cardinal, a digital marketing agency focused on growing multi location companies. His work as CEO of Cardinal has recently earned him the honor of being selected as a member of the 2018 Top 40 Under 40 list by Georgia State University as well as 2015 and 2016 Top 20 Entrepreneur of metro Atlanta by TiE Atlanta, Atlanta Business Chronicle’s 2016 Small Business Person of the Year,and the Digital Marketer of the Year by Technology Association of Georgia (TAG).

Cardinal has experienced exponential growth under Membrillo’s leadership, being consecutively named on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing privately-held US companies for the last three years. Membrillo’s innovative approach to digital marketing has transformed the industry and delivered remarkable results to clients of all sizes and markets. He has been featured in leading national publications including The Business Journals, Entrepreneur, Search Engine Journal, and The Wall Street Journal. He has also served as an expert speaker for conferences including the American Marketing Association, SouthWired, and Vistage Executive Leaders, where he spoke on his unique approach to Millennial Management to over 400 CEOs.

Alex Membrillo Cardinal CEO