If you thought that review sites don’t hold much importance, you’d be wrong…dead wrong!
As many more patients head to their computers, looking for online reviews is often the initial step in researching a doctor before they make their first appointment. They want to know about you, your staff, waiting times, and even if you provide patient portals or access to their EHR records.
According to a survey conducted by Software Advice, patients age 25-34 (31%) and 35-44 (29%) represent the market with the largest usage. If your patient population includes this demographic, then you’ve hit the sweet spot.
There are more than a dozen highly-active sites online where patients can post both negative and positive reviews about their experience with physicians. Most commonly used review sites include:
It’s true that “you can’t please everyone”. Even when your entire office staff has done everything humanly possible to make a patient encounter a positive one, there will still be complaints from some patients and they may be eager to share them. These comments and low ratings can hurt your image and credibility, even if they are false.
According to a survey done by Digital ASsent, a healthcare technology company, 72$ of 341 responders affirmed the view that bad reviews would deter them from going to see a specific physician.
Guide to Handling Negative Views
It is crucial that you are not only aware of any negative views about your medical practice, but have a strategy set up to deal with them as well. Ignoring them is no longer an option as more and more patients go online and it is easy to tarnish your brand despite all your hard work.
Here are 5 steps that you can take.
1) Respond to the comment if possible.
Most sites permit responses to comments made. Address the problem in a professional way that reflects your office and that the complaint is not common as well as that you are taking the necessary steps to rectify the problem This eases patient’s minds and shows that you have flexibility as well as validating your patient’s views.
Don’t respond in a defensive manner as this will challenge the reviewer to banter back and forth with you. (and you will NOT win in the perception game)
***It is crucial that you don’t respond (especially in the heat of anger) in a way that demeans the patient like “this patient is crazy or has mental problems”. A comment like this violates a patient’s privacy and may land you in court, or worse yet in the Office of Professional Misconduct.
2) Patient Privacy
Take care not to post any protected health information when responding to a review. Additionally, do not confirm or deny that the reviewer is your patient to begin with. A statement like this works well-
“If you are a patient, we apologize for any misunderstandings or lack of communication”.
3) Flood the site
Rather than making a negative comment stand out, why not have it buried. The easiest way to do this is by having a huge number of positive reviews entered onto the site. Enlist the aid of satisfied patients and encourage them to give their positive feedback and testimonials. When one negative view is among fifty positive ones, the poor review holds much less weight.
4) Amend wrong information
If there is inaccurate information about your practice, correct this so that future assumptions cannot swirl around the wrong information.
5) Offer a solution to the complaint
Offering a solution to the problem a patient is facing does a great deal toward defusing the problem For example, if the patient is experiencing a billing issue, supply the reviewer with contact information to the billing department so that the problem can be resolved. Let the reviewer know that you are working to address the problem and that you take reviews very seriously.
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See you at the next post!