In the digital age, the reputation of your medical practice can be damaged by more than just bad word of mouth. With the popularity of online review sites having skyrocketed in the last few years, no business can afford to ignore their digital reputation. Negative online reviews for a medical practice have the potential to truly damage your credibility and your bottom line.
Even if you’re doing your best to provide an exemplary care experience for all your patients, you can’t control what people say online. Negative opinions are part of doing business—it’s just that now, they can appear online for prospective patients to see. Fortunately, there are a few strategies and tactics you can implement to minimize the impact of negative reviews on your medical practice.
Have the right perspective
First, it’s important to do your best to remove emotion from the equation. Your practice is your livelihood and your passion, so it’s natural to feel defensive about negative feedback. However, it’s key that you don’t respond to negative reviews when you’re feeling emotionally charged.
Before you draft a reply, take a deep breath and try to view the review as a learning experience. Even though people who leave negative reviews for your medical practice don’t always do it in the kindest or most professional fashion, they might have a point. Read all reviews with an open mind. Use them as opportunities to analyze your service and see where you can improve. Some people will simply never be satisfied—but many others have legitimate concerns. For those in the latter category, you should feel appreciative that they took the time to submit feedback so you can grow. As difficult as it can be, try to see the value and the opportunity in negative reviews for your medical practice.
You know what they say: The customer is always right—and the patient is too. Even if a patient is wrong about something in their negative review of your medical practice, don’t get defensive and harshly correct them.
For example, if someone complained that you don’t accept credit cards when, in fact, you do, don’t respond with: “Actually, I know for a fact we accept cards and we always have, so what you said is incorrect.” Be gentler. “We apologize for any misunderstandings. We’re proud to offer our patients a variety of ways to pay, including all major credit cards.” Use deference and politeness—they will always get you further than a comeback that temporarily makes you feel better!
Keep compliance in mind
One other important point to note is that HIPAA rules still apply, even on an online review site. Of course, you already know not to share any personal health information in your response. Did you know, however, that you shouldn’t even confirm that the person is a patient or not in your reply? Make it clear to anyone else reading the review that this person may or may not be a patient. Above all, protecting any patient’s confidential data is key.
Now that you have a few tips for how to respond, make sure that you do respond to all, including the negative reviews of your medical practice! Every review left on the major sites merits a response, so be sure to regularly monitor each of these platforms. It shows patients and prospective patients that you’re attentive and involved, and that their care experience matters to you. Plus, it’s a great opportunity to correct any false information reviewers may (intentionally or unintentionally) be spreading, and to show that you have a calm, professional demeanor even in the face of negative feedback.
Finally, a great way to bring your average rating up and minimize the importance of negative reviews is to get more reviews in general. Encourage every patient you see to leave you a review. You could follow up via text, email, or mail after their appointment, or you could have a sign in your office. As long as you take constructive feedback and are always striving to provide a great patient experience, you’ll soon get enough positive reviews to overshadow the negative.
Seek advice from the experts
Struggling to balance all the moving parts that go into running a successful medical practice? InnovateU can help. Contact us today to learn more about the services we offer, from medical practice management and consulting to billing and coding support, and much more.