Your online practice reputation is too important to ignore. Handle negative reviews with professionalism.
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August 29, 2016

5 Tips for Dealing with Negative Patient Reviews

And Building Your Online Practice Reputation

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With the growth of online review sites, healthcare practitioners have even more reason to pay attention to their online reputations. The comments offered on sites such as Google+, Yelp, and others can have a significant impact on the growth of a practice. In a survey published by The Profitable Practice, nearly half of those who responded said they would go out-of-network in order to see a practitioner who had more favorable reviews online. The benefits of favorable reviews for a provider’s reputation are well documented, but what happens when the review isn’t favorable?

The following techniques can help you minimize the impact of a patient’s negative comments on your online reputation.

Don’t Ignore the Negative: It might be tempting to delete negative reviews, but that’s actually a bad choice. Unless the review contains offensive language or is identified as spam, rather than deleting it, you should respond to it. Be professional and courteous in your reply rather than getting defensive. Even if the patient review makes outrageous statements (or even if you’ve never treated the reviewer), remaining calm and reasonable will show prospective patients that you are not easily shaken - a quality that is highly regarded.

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Take It Outside:One of the best strategies for addressing negativity and preserving your online practice reputation is to take the conversation offline. Let the reviewer know that you appreciate their feedback. If you can identify the reviewer, contact him or her by phone. When you’ve thanked them for their input, see if you can address the issue raised in their negative review. Don’t make promises that can’t be kept, but do offer to take steps toward resolving the complaint, and offer to follow up with the patient as changes are made. In addition to de-escalating a potential conflict, moving the conversation to email or phone helps to ensure that you are staying HIPAA compliant.

Give a Timely Response: If you’re leaving reviews for weeks without responding, it sends the message that you don’t really care. That’s not a good message to be sending and not at all good for your online practice reputation. To ensure that you’re building a positive reputation, make sure that you reply quickly - within the same day, or no more than two days later. To make it even easier, make sure you set up alerts which immediately notify you that a new review has been posted. The major review sites (Google+, Yelp, etc.) make receiving alerts very easy, and that ensures that you can respond as quickly as possible to any patient review.

Ask Your Patients for Help: When patients have been with you a longer time, or when they’ve had a positive experience, ask them to write a review for you. Many patients aren’t aware that they can leave a review, and they may not know how or where to leave one. It’s perfectly acceptable to provide them instructions on leaving a review for you. What’s not acceptable is telling them what to say or providing an incentive to get them to leave a review.

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Use the Feedback You Get: Though reading and responding to feedback may seem time consuming, it’s actually helping you to build a solid online reputation for your practice, and it’s providing you with valuable information. Think of reviews as another form of survey or a patient focus group. They can give you insights into your front office management, your check-in process, the flow of your treatment, and other systems and touch points in your office. A negative patient review can help you see the weaknesses you may not be aware of, and this gives you an opportunity to build on your positive practice reputation.

Building your online practice reputation isn’t just predicated on the nice reviews you collect. While those are important and helpful, you’ll be judged just as heavily on how you handle those negative patient comments as well.

For more information on improving your online practice reputation, click here!

Tagged Topics: Tips & Best Practices | Patient Engagement | Highlighted Solutions | New Patient Acquisition |

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