Author Archives: Michael Stegen

Busting Myths Series #5


Myth Busted!

Busting Myths with Marie Olesen

Separating Fact from Fiction

Myth #5 The two most significant consumer behavior trends in medicine are not related

Busted: There are two interconnected changes in consumer behavior. Consumers are changing what they want to buy (non-surgical) and how they want to buy it (ratings and reviews).

I describe my number one job at La Jolla Cosmetic Surgery Centre as understanding where the cosmetic consumer is and moving our practice to her. I’ve used patient feedback since 1988 to help me discern the need for change. I spend no time bemoaning her behavior or criticizing her buying processes. Our practice responds as quickly as I can identify her changing expectations. Sensing industry-wide trends, I introduced two technology products, Inform&Ehance® CRM in 1994 and RealPatientRatings™ in 2011.

My mythical advisor in this philosophy is Obi-Wan Kenobi from Star Wars. As described by Obi-Wan,

“The Force is what gives a Jedi his power. It’s an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us; it binds the galaxy together.”

Let’s apply the Force to the two biggest trends in consumer medicine. The growth of non-surgical represents a sea change opportunity for practices willing to adapt to what consumers want to buy. Like aligning with the Force, the effectiveness of this trend can be accelerated by adapting to the second most important change in consumer behavior. Consumers are changing how they want to buy. They want to use ratings and reviews.

Obi-Wan was described as a “Force sensitive individual.” When he spoke of aligning with the Force, he was talking about tapping into its power and using its impact to increase safety and to accelerate results. Being in the Force involves moral and ethical alignment, not attempts to misuse its power.

Ratings and reviews should help consumers make buying decisions more quickly and more safely. But what’s happening in the ratings and reviews environment is not always factual or ethical, hence undeserving of the accelerative power of the Force. I see increasing gamesmanship that is inconsistent with good medicine and our obligations to our patients.

The Myth is Busted

Consumers deserve transparency in the form of authentic, believable and recent ratings and reviews. They need 5-star scales, statistical validity (>30 ratings) and distributions with percentages that make it easy for them to validate quality.

If you want to accelerate the growth of non-surgical, add ratings and reviews for your non-surgical providers and procedures. Use patient feedback to gain insight into your care and communication systems. When you have ongoing QA, your scores will reflect the quality and attract more consumers.

May the Force be with you.

To discuss more, please call our team!
1.800.267.1228, ext. 1

RealPatientRatings - Marie Olesen Founder and Chief Patient Experience Officer

Busting Myths Series #4


Myth Busted!

Busting Myths with Marie Olesen

Separating Fact from Fiction

Myth #4: All ratings and reviews are considered equal

Busted: Consumers demand transparency in the form of ratings and reviews that are authentic, statistically-valid, relevant, recent and consistent.

Reviews are here to stay. They’re the new advertising and the most effective practice growth strategy in years. Consumers reward transparency. You must be willing to share the complete story of your patient experiences, good and bad. Consumers expect to see a believable distribution of 1-5 scores that mirror what they see on major consumer sites like Amazon and Google. While this seems risky, it’s not.

92% of consumers now read online reviews

Unfortunately, many doctors still fear ratings and reviews. Either they’ve had a bad experience or heard about a negative patient having far more impact than is justified. The longer you wait or use a partial or wrong strategy, the more competitive advantage you lose. With the right strategy, you can influence the messaging on your website and in searches as you learn what matters to your patients the most.

  1. In the cherry pick strategy, the practice only asks patients who are highly satisfied to write reviews. Unfortunately, there are too many 5 star reviews for believability and there are very few reviews because those asked don’t always comply. Still it’s worth the effort and important for third-party sites.
  2. With the in-office approach, practices use an iPad to garner reviews. This involves disguising IP addresses and potentially making patients uncomfortable. There’s a risk that the practice will game the system with fake patients.
  3. Lastly, there’s an inclusive strategy that seeks feedback from all patients consistently. It’s automatic and ongoing. Everybody wins.


Consumers want 100% verified reviews they can trust. Verified reviews differentiate your practice and help consumers make informed decisions more quickly. Google’s new AdWords™ focuses on verified reviews, validating the need for authenticity. They’re demanding that practices use a byline indicating that the reviews are verified. Do you really want to risk challenging Google and the future traffic to your site?

95% of consumers suspect censorship or faked reviews when they don’t see bad scores

Statistically Valid

Many doctors complain that their ratings do not accurately reflect practice quality. They’re right. Press Ganey’s standard for statistical validity is a minimum of 30 reviews. Any sites where you have less than 30 reviews are problematic and effectively providing false information. This is why it’s so important that your own website contain the ratings and review information that consumers seek.

88% of online shoppers incorporate reviews into purchase decisions


The volume of reviews increases believability. The greater the number of reviews, the more convincing the actual percentages become. The expected outcome is speedier conversions and greater growth. It’s important to have a large body of reviews, as customers are reading more reviews now than in all years past.

88% of consumers form an opinion by reading up to ten reviews vs. 84% in 2014


Recent reviews are also essential to consumers. Review content is perishable. Therefore, you need reviews that arrive consistently. Long breaks between reviews and older reviews, especially for medical services, are less trustworthy and less indicative of current quality. Actual dates of reviews are important to consumers because recency counts.

44% say a review must be written within one month to be relevant


Consistency is one of the most important attributes of your ratings and review strategy. It allows the consumer to evaluate the patient experience at your practice with some certainty. Consistency is important for search engines and rankings as well.

The Myth is Busted

Using patient feedback to protect and grow your practice

Verified reviews help practices understand their patient experiences and benefit from improving them. If you’re concerned about your scores, you must have a feedback system that enables you to use data to target opportunities to improve patient experiences and grow revenue predictably. If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.

Here are two insights from over 2.5M responses to surveys by RealPatientRatings™:

  • Proactive pre-op contact increases Overall Procedure Satisfaction by 38%. Patients who responded that they had no pre-op contact rated their Overall Procedure Satisfaction at only 52%. Patients who were contacted proactively rated their Overall Procedure Satisfaction at 72%. (n=42,045) If you don’t have routine pre-op communication protocols, this data confirms the importance of pre-op communication to patients and how much it impacts their satisfaction, retention and referral.
  • Successful problem resolution efforts increase Overall Satisfaction by 88%. Everyone is paranoid about negative reviews. The reality is less than 5% of patients’ report experiencing an unresolved problem (n=5556 of 111,200). More astonishingly, patients who were highly satisfied with problem resolution reported 81% overall satisfaction with their surgery experience. This compares to the 43% score from patients who were merely satisfied how the practice resolved their problem. You can protect your reputation by having a system that enables you to find disappointed patients before they write a negative review and resolve their issues to your ultimate benefit.

If you’re interested in specific insights to protect and grow your practice, ask us about our new PxInsight™ assessment.

To discuss more, please call our team!
1.800.267.1228, ext. 1

All stats sourced from Vendasta, BrightLocal, Business2community, Bazaarvoice, webrepublic, reprevive, Econsultancy, Reevoo, and Social Media Today.

RealPatientRatings - Marie Olesen Founder and Chief Patient Experience Officer

Busting Myths Series #3

Myth Busted!

Busting Myths with Marie Olesen

Separating Fact from Fiction

Myth #3: The bulk of your marketing budget should be spent attracting new patients

Busted: You need a strategy for the patients that know you and the consumers that don’t. A two-pronged approach meets the needs of visitors on your website or those viewing your profile on someone else’s site.

Many practices appear to be increasing spends on third-party consumer sites. I think this is occurring because the practices’ own websites do not provide consumers with the content and features they need to complete their buying process. The consumers leave the practice sites and head back to the greater web to find what they need and potentially to find another provider.

As more consumers use ratings and reviews to vet choices, you can let lower conversions on your website mislead you as to the problem. It isn’t necessarily that you have too little traffic. It’s more likely that they’re not finding the trusted, authentic content they need to make an appointment.

Think about your patient base. What percent of your revenue do you “earn” through great patient experiences that result in retention and referral? It’s probably a lot, at least 75%.

Strong retention and referral reduces the need to invest a substantial portion of your budget attracting people who’ve never heard of you on sites you can’t control.

We founded RealPatientRatings™ because we believe practices need 100% verified ratings and reviews to increase traffic and conversions with content valued by search engines and consumers.

Your House - Your Property vs. Vacation Rental - Someone eles’ Property

Rather than going outside for greater investment in lead generation on third-party sites, you need to stay home and fix up your house! You need strategies that effectively engage and convert visitors on your practice website. You need to focus on vendors with strategies that help make your website stronger.

Think of your website as your home. The consumer websites where you have a paid presence are effectively vacation rentals. Using this analogy, it’s clear that most of your time and your financial investment should be in the asset you own, your home. You want to make it more valuable with a lot of curb appeal.

Most of your guests at home are people you already know and their friends and family. You want to provide a wonderful place to engage them and to encourage them to come back often. These guests equate to the 75% plus of your retention and referral patients. It includes new patients you attract on your own through social media, word of mouth and local activities.

Now to your vacation rental. It’s a smaller, but important part of your life. But, because you don’t own the property, there is always a degree of risk. Your expectations about availability, pricing or last minute changes are not within your control. Someone else is making decisions about how to best optimize the value of their property. You are helping them achieve their goals with the rental income you provide while your home could be becoming outdated and reducing in value.

A smaller number of new acquaintances (25% or less) connect with you via the rental property. You want them to have a great experience, but you shouldn’t spend so excessively that you won’t be able to maintain your primary home or entertain the majority of your friends and family.

Looking specifically at ratings and review content, let’s translate this to your owned web assets and those that you rent from others.

Your Website:
1. Don’t make your patients and their friends leave your site to get ratings and reviews. Publish 100% verified ratings and reviews that keep consumers on your site and speed conversions.
2. Enable your practice website to rank for your name or practice name with a strategy that provides trusted, credible content that is updated automatically.
Other People’s Websites:
1. Provide ratings and reviews for other sites and the traffic they earn and drive, but not to the exclusion of the needs of the majority of your patients who visit your website.
2. For other sites, make the best impression you can within the limits of their offerings and your ability to justify your return on the invesstment.

The Myth is Busted

Given these percentages and the control aspects, where is the best place to make your investments? Where can you predict the best ROI and long-term value?

The bulk of your marketing budget should be spent on the largest segment of your successful practice, your loyal patients, their friends and family. The strategy includes quality staff, strong business processes and an array of activities and communication that generates continuing interest and return visits.

We recommend a two-pronged approach that positions your practice website as the primary asset for success with a smaller secondary budget for external sites.

To discuss more, please call our team!
1.800.267.1228, ext. 1

RealPatientRatings - Marie Olesen Founder and Chief Patient Experience Officer