Columbia Orthopaedic Group, with more than 26 board-certified physicians, has been in business for more than 50 years. It has legions of satisfied customers who come back year after year and recommend the practice to friends and family. But it didn't look great online. The practice didn't rank high in search results, and the few online reviews it had were horrible and didn't reflect the majority of satisfied patients.


More and more people look to the Internet before making decisions on products and purchases—85 percent—and four out of five people use social media to decide what product or service to buy. Having a bad search ranking or poor online reviews can break a business. So the group decided to change what it was doing wrong, set goals, and implement a proactive strategy—and then everything changed.

What not to do

The team at COG knew what they were doing wasn't working, because they weren't ranking high enough on search engines, and their happy patients—the vast majority of patients—weren't leaving reviews. So they looked at their options.

  • Create a space for reviews on their website, so they could control what's posted about them online. They decided against this one, because they wanted to better connect with patients, have better search results, and not just try to control what people post online.  
  • Hire a reputation management firm to work with patients who'd left bad reviews. They decided against this because removing reviews or improving those few bad reviews wouldn't solve their problem. The practice needed more reviews and better search results.
  • Keep the status quo, and focus on their many happy patients who never leave online reviews. They decided against this one because they wanted to attract new patients, and they needed positive online search results.

 

Set goals

Before Columbia Orthopaedic Group could implement serious changes, it needed to figure out its end game. What did it specifically want to accomplish?

  • Receive more feedback: It wanted to hear from a higher percentage of patients. Sending out satisfaction surveys via email, or having doctors hand cards to patients wasn't working.
  • Shorten feedback loop: It was taking too long to hear back from patients. By the time someone completed a survey or wrote a review, it was often too late to fix any problems.
  • Deliver feedback to the right people: Even when the practice received feedback, aka constructive criticism, it wasn't getting to the right people. The information that the physicians and practice teams needed so that they could improve wasn't getting to them in a motivating or usable way.
  • Increase search ranking: Even though COG has been in business for more than 50 years if it wants to continue growing it needs new patients. And more and more people do online research before choosing a new doctor. So without a strong search ranking, the practice won't grow.  

Setting a list of goals to increase feedback and search results helped COG figure out what it needed to do.

 

Implement strategy

Once COG knew what it wanted to accomplish, it put a plan in motion.

  • Connect with every patient, quickly: COG started automatically sending every patient text messages or emails to get feedback within 24 hours of being seen. These texts and emails encouraged them to submit public feedback on independent social review sites like Google, Facebook and Healthgrades, or leave private feedback.  All feedback was welcome.
  • Respond back, promptly: When patients submitted feedback, the team at COG listened and responded. The faster the response, the better.
  • Improve, immediately: The feedback from patients wasn't only for improved online search results. The team at COG decided to take the good and bad reviews and make changes for the better. Now all physicians and physician team members read what every patient says, so they can quickly incorporate needed changes.

 

Results

Making simple changes delivered incredible online outcomes for COG.

  • Increased online activity: Reviews grew from 1 to more than 10 per physician per month. In total, it now averages more than 200 public social reviews monthly. It also shortened the feedback loop, so COG now hears back from patients in a matter of hours or days, instead of a weeks or months.
  • Search ranking rise: With the constant flow of reviews from happy patients on trusted third-party sites, like Google, Facebook and Healthgrades, COG's online search results rocketed to the top. It now ranks in the top 3 for every keyword they monitor in the Columbia area.

“Our practice serves a large geographic region where patients have choices to travel for care in several directions,” said Beau Baehman of Columbia Orthopedics. “As SocialClime has helped us improve our social reputation, we have benefited by more potential patients finding us and choosing us over their other options.”

With so many people using the Internet to research products and services, online reviews and rankings can make a break a business, even a medical practice. The team at COG needed a more positive online presence with better search results to grow. So it looked at what it didn't want to do, set goals, implemented a strategy with the help of SocialClime, and saw amazing results. COG is proof that it's possible to improve every practice while also bettering your online presence.

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