Online reviews can make or break the success of any healthcare practice. Even if you are the most efficient, results-driven practice around, there are times when it seems like everything is just taken for granted, especially when you notice low ratings on review sites like Yelp, Google, or Facebook to name a few. However, perhaps the most enigmatic part of these unsatisfactory reviews is that they are often in regards to completely fixable office issues that have little to do with a practice’s actual treatment.
Unfortunately, patients don't care why a review is negative, only that it is. To help, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most common "easily fixable" issues that might contribute to a poor review:
1. An untidy office. Of course your office is clean and sanitary. However, if it appears unkempt, it can create an immediately negative impression on a patient. Make it a point to check each room before a patient enters and be sure it looks streamlined and uncluttered. The same thing goes for the waiting room and front office; the more updated and organized you can make the office environment look, the better impression a patient will have about your office overall.
2. Long waits. Though at times a wait is inevitable, it is in your best interest to schedule as responsibly as possible to avoid long wait times. Particularly for new patients, a long wait time is their first impression and many times, their last, as a 30-minute delay can often cause them to leave before they even meet the professional. To help, enlist a day-of appointment reminder system that helps patients remember the exact time of their appointment, as one late patient can set back the entire day. Also, keep note of what each patient is being scheduled for and schedule the length of the appointment accordingly. In the event that a patient does have to wait, don’t ignore the situation! Apologize to the waiting patient and let them know you have not forgotten them; communication goes a long way.
3. Uncensored office chat. Though you may exude professionalism when speaking directly with a patient, this office-appropriate behavior should not cease the moment a patient’s back is turned. Though staff may be unaware, patients are listening and watching their demeanor.This just happened to me. I visited a doctor that I love and as I waited, the front desk staff started gossiping loudly enough for everyone to hear. They complained about the doctor, about work hours, about vacation time. You name it. It ruined the entire visit for me (and made me wonder if there were things going on that should make me question the practice). Healthcare professionals and their staff should be aware that inappropriate banter or overly causal chitchat while patients are present or waiting has potential to cause offense. It is important to enforce proper behavior at all times, no matter how unassuming a patient may seem.
4. Disorganized management. If a patient arrives at their appointment only to find office staff nervously shuffling through papers in an attempt to recover a lost or misplaced chart, you are running the risk of a poor review. If the office staff seems overwhelmed or disgruntled, a patient may just as easily assume the doctor is equally disorganized, and disorganized treatment is never a good thing. Try implementing digital upgrades where you can. For instance, computerized medical records and appointment books ensure patients are always searchable and recoverable.
5. Not reinforcing the positive reviews you have. Most of the time, practices tend to harness all their attention to fixing and responding to negative reviews, only to let their positive patient reviews go unnoticed. Acknowledge and thank positive support and feedback of your office to show your appreciation. This will reinforce patients’ tendency to take the time to write positive reviews, which occur far less often than negative-driven ones.
By taking the time to assess where your practice stands in these five fronts, you may greatly reduce your target for a bad review. Furthermore, it is important to understand that many patients posting negative or unsatisfactory reviews simply want to be heard. If you can implement your own patient survey system, you are giving patients a productive outlet to express their complaints, without tarnishing your online reputation.
Read more about handling negative reviews here: