How to Handle Negative Patient Reviews

How to Handle Negative Patient Reviews

You've just received notification of a new patient review. It's a negative one.

What do you do?

Take a deep breath and avoid the impulse to immediately respond to the review. Reflect on who the patient is; take your time in formulating a considered response. Whatever you do, don’t ignore the negative review.

Bad online ratings can wreak havoc on a doctors’ business. According to the Pew Research Center, 77% of consumers say they use online reviews as the first step in finding a new physician. So doctors are hiring reputation-management firms who pay close attention to reviews. This benefits both patients and doctors as it can lead to doctors making changes that result in better patient experience.

Health care professionals (HCP’s ) can also use reputation-management services to build microsites, which are separate websites, embedded into their existing web pages. These microsites pull in reviews from rating sites such as Yelp, Google, and Facebook, but only displays those that are positive. This can be a gray area as they’re not getting rid of the negative reviews, only highlighting the positive ones.

However, employing a reputation-management service to monitor patient reviews can be helpful, to know when patients leave reviews, good or bad. You can respond quickly to mitigate the negative impact of a poor review.

When responding to a negative review, put the review in perspective, and take it as an opportunity to improve the patient experience:

  • Is this an isolated complaint or one that’s part of a pattern?
  • Was the wait time in the office too long? Then scheduling must be addressed and improved.
  • Was there a miscommunication? How could this have been prevented?
  • How does the staff treat patients? Are they welcoming and professional?
  • A review could also be a personal attack from the competition, or a disgruntled person, in which case you may need to involve an attorney.

How do you approach a negative reviewer?

  1. Take things offline and respond in private. Use e-mail or direct messaging to politely encourage the person to call your practice to discuss the situation over the telephone. Call the patient directly, if possible.
  2. Be empathetic, and try to see the situation from the patient’s point of view.
  3. Let the patient know how you’re going to address the issue.
  4. Thank them for their comments.
  5. It is important that you do, do not ask them to remove the review, as this could result in a fine to your practice by the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC’s) Bureau of Consumer Protection.

Sometimes all it takes is for a patient to feel that you are treating them with compassion, and have a real interest in addressing their concerns. It can make for a much better doctor/patient relationship.

Admin Jul 10, 2019


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