How to Deal With a Negative Patient Review

Practis Blog

While you’re browsing around on search engines to see how your practice shows up, you may come across a bad review. No one wants to see them, but it happens to every practice.
Reputation management is becoming one of the most powerful SEO strategies as sites like Yelp, Healthgrades, Vitals and even Google’s own Google My Business feature dominate the search results page before any organic listings for medical practice websites show up.

It’s no doubt that people use reviews to shop online, and now that concept seeps into the healthcare world. In fact, most people now trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Hopefully, you’re getting a bunch of good reviews, but what happens when you get a bad one?

Flagging/Reporting a Bad Review

Your first instinct will be to try and delete a bad review. Unfortunately it’s not that easy. Obviously if people could pick and choose which reviews to display, it would defeat the purpose of having review sites.

Each review site has it’s own set of guidelines to flag a review for removal, but most include those reviews that:

  • contain vulgar language or is inappropriate
  • targets a very specific individual (a doctor or staff member) and may be considered hate speech
  • is vague, irrelevant or off-topic (i.e. review of the wrong business)
  • is a conflict of interest (i.e. ex-employee leaves a bad review)

If a bad review you’re looking at falls into one or more of those categories, chances are it can be removed. When reporting reviews, each site is very specific. You can’t just flag a review, write a custom comment why it should be removed and then send it in. Usually, you have to choose a pre-selected option.

As you can see you need to have a clear cut reason to remove a review, not just that you don’t want a 1 star review floating around online.

The Bad Review Doesn’t Fit Into a Category, Now What?

This is a very frustrating situation. You see a bad review and it may be unwarranted in your own mind, but according to that review site, it’s legitimate.

Don’t ignore bad reviews

This is extremely vital. As much as you don’t want to see it, it’s so important that you address the bad review. Most of these sites allow for business managers to comment or respond to reviews. You have to make sure you claim the business listing on whatever site it is, and then go to the review and respond.

Here are some tips with your responses:

  • Make each response is custom and not just copy/paste
  • Admit mistakes and apologize
  • Be timely and respond to bad reviews as quick as you can
  • Provide an offline solution by providing a number they can call or representative to contact to resolve any issues
  • Correct inaccuracies or misinformation so other readers don’t get wrong information
  • Clearly detail how you plan on resolving the issue or that you plan on bringing the issue to the attention of management (and really do it!)

Through responding, you can put other readers at ease. In fact, many people enjoy seeing you respond to a bad review. Your response can have more of an impact than you’d think.

HIPAA Compliance and Personal Information in Reviews

If a patient posts personal information an external site like Yelp, Healthgrades, etc. it technical does not violate HIPAA because the patient posted the information. However, you may want to consider flagging the review for containing personal information (if that option is available). Most review sites have their own internal review approval process and won’t post reviews with sensitive personal information.

If the review is on your own site DO NOT approve that review for publication. For more information, contact your HIPAA Privacy Officer.

Key Takeaways

  • Most sites allow for review reporting/flagging
  • Flag reviews that fit into a reporting/removal category for that particular site
  • Try and claim business listings on review sites
  • If you can’t remove it, respond to each review uniquely in a timely matter so people can see you’re taking an active interest in your patient’s satisfaction

Need help in managing your online reputation? Practis is here to help! Contact us to learn more about reputation management