MDConnect Drives Search Engine Results and Reviews for Vascular Surgeon
Dr. Tif Siragusa has been in practice as a vascular surgeon in Nashville, Tennessee, for five years. A little over two years ago he started working with MDConnect, a Boston-based digital marketing agency that works exclusively with healthcare clients. “My initial involvement with MDConnect is that they helped me with my pay-per-click campaign,” says Siragusa. “After the first two quarters, I saw triple the amount of patients that we acquired through the Internet and pay-per-click marketing.”
So when MDConnect pitched Siragusa on ReviewMD, a new reputation management program the agency was rolling out, he was interested.
The service package includes a hosted ReviewMD website using the individual physician’s name as the domain because the most popular search term for an individual physician is his or her name. Siragusa’s domain is drtifsiragusa.com. It ranks high on the Google search engine results page, just below Healthgrades, and above Vitals.
When patients come in for their last visit, Siragusa gives satisfied patients a business card with the ReviewMD website address, and invites them to write a comment on the site. The site also features prominent buttons linking to Siragusa’s pages on Healthgrades and Vitals, driving patients to rate him there as well.
“I thought it was a great concept because it’s not only an independent place where patients can review you, but it also prompts them to review you on other review sites,” he says.
Since the campaign began in 2013, Siragusa’s ReviewMD site has pulled 24 reviews, and his pages on Healthgrades and Vitals have also had significant growth in the number of reviews. Healthgrades went from 14 reviews to 29, and Vitals jumped from 11 to 27. Looking at the reviewers, many of those who left comments on the ReviewMD site also left reviews on these two sites. Siragusa’s average ratings as of March 3 are:
- ReviewMD—5 Stars
- Healthgrades—4 Stars
- Vitals—4.5 Stars
Siragusa has the ability to screen reviews but says he would post legitimate reviews even if they were less than a five-star rating. “Nobody’s perfect,” he says. “If they had to wait, and they put that on there, that’s reasonable—if all reviews are five stars, it does raise an eyebrow.”
Zach Burt, Senior Online Marketing Manager at MDConnect explained the screening process. “MD Connect screens every review to ensure that all reviews are from actual patients that the doctor saw—and not disgruntled employees, competitors posing as patients, or outright spam,” says Burt. “The doctors themselves choose who they distribute the ReviewMD business cards to—so I suspect that is why the reviews are typically of very high quality (five stars).”
Siragusa feels he can improve when it comes to requesting new reviews. About a third of the patients he invites to leave comments actually do so. “We can do better, honestly,” he said. “This tool has worked well for us, but the main limitation of the tool, like the main limitation of the bow and arrow, is the person shooting it.” Thinking aloud, he wonders if he would get better results following up with an email. “I think an email two to three days after their visit would be a good way to do that because they’re already on the computer,” he says. “Now all they have to do is click.”
Patients value online reviews of physicians. A 2012 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that 59 percent of respondents reported physician rating sites to be “somewhat important” or “very important” when choosing a physician. “In certain fields of medicine, 95% of what matters is going to be doctor referrals,” says Siragusa. But for treatment of problems patients can see and understand like varicose veins or spider veins, they typically research providers online, read the reviews, and self-refer to physicians. When Siragusa asks patients why they chose him, they say, “Because you had a lot of really good reviews.”
Siragusa’s online reviews and digital presence are significant drivers of new patient referrals. “For me, there’s a huge importance on Internet presence and being able to educate people about what they can do for these problems, and educate them on who’s the best doctor to see, and why.”