Tips for dealing with lousy patient reviews

social marketing

As more patients use online reviews to choose their providers, doctors face limited options for dealing effectively with poor reviews of their practices.

Social media and other web-based resources can be invaluable to consumers trying to decide on a healthcare provider, and an effective online presence can offer valuable opportunities for practices to market their brands, according to an article in Physicians Practice. Those same tools also provide patients with an avenue to provide feedback, and that can be a double-edged sword, as FiercePracticeManagment has previously reported.

As statistics show 35 percent of patients say they choose doctors based on good ratings and 27 percent admit they avoid those with bad ones, doctors clearly need to pay attention to their reviews, according to the publication. Doctors trying to build a successful practice ignore online reviews at their peril. The problem is, given the restrictions placed on doctors by privacy laws, physicians need to step carefully when interacting with patients in a public forum. David Adler, a lawyer from the Adler Law Group, offers some dos and don’ts for dealing with bad reviews:

  • Don’t respond rashly. While doctors can, and should, go after clearly libelous or defamatory comments, Adler suggests a calm, empathetic response could turn the situation to a doctor’s advantage.
  • Strategize in advance for dealing with bad reviews without ignoring them. Adler advises physicians to know social media platform guidelines and consider contacting them directly to sort out any inaccurate information posted on them.
  • Don’t be afraid of reviews. The article points out that the vast majority of reviews physicians receive are positive, so soliciting feedback from patients may help to improve the quality of the available feedback.
  • Don’t post fake reviews. Marketing firms that offer to balance things out by seeding bogus reviews to improve overall ratings aren’t worth it. “Fake reviews are unlawful and the fallout is potentially worse,” says Adler.