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Strategically Face Negative Reviews Head-On

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Let’s face it, we all have bad days. While the best way to avoid bad reviews is to deliver the best patient experience possible, there are days now and again where the stars just don’t seem to align quite right and we do not perform as high as usual.

For a medical practice with many different patient touch points, one person’s bad day or error could turn into a patient’s negative online review. The first negative review likely will be devastating, but you and your practice will survive, and, in fact, learn from it if you keep an open mind and turn the negative review into a practice-improvement exercise.

Importantly, a medical practice’s online reputation is not the sole responsibility of the physicians and supporting medical staff who provide clinical care.The patient journey begins with the first pre-appointment interaction online or on the phone to the post-appointment follow up. By elevating your care standards and ensuring all members of your team understand their part in the patient journey, you exponentially increase the chances of great reviews and referrals.

Every person who works in your practice has the power to either positively or negatively affect the patient experience, so make the quest for positive reviews a team effort. But as we all know, bad news travels fast, especially digitally. This makes it critical not to ignore bad reviews when you get them because they can cost a practice time, money and loss of potential patients and future revenue, as well as damage a previously strong reputation.

Interactive PDF

For more on this and how to manage the reputation of your practice, see this month’s guide, “Shine a Light on Your Practice: How Patient Reviews Can Help You Improve and Grow.”

While the goal is to keep negative reviews to an absolute minimum and make their impact smaller with an abundance of positive reviews, it is wise to prepare for the worst. Have a plan in place for how you will respond to those gut-wrenching one-star reviews, so that knee-jerk reactions and impulses are kept at bay. Above all, do not engage in online arguments. Even if the patient’s allegations are untrue, arguing could damage your reputation more than the negative review itself. Bottom line – always respond professionally and offer to discuss the matter privately.

According to Healthgrades, the following steps are encouraged to minimize the impact of a negative review: 

  • Be gracious and thank the patient for their comment
  • Consider the patient’s complaint or concern
  • Address any changes that can or will result
  • Respond privately, if warranted, to correct the situation and discuss further
  • Above all else, safeguard protected health information

If you are struggling to keep up with your online reputation management, get help quickly. Allowing negative reviews to remain unanswered can be extremely detrimental to a physician and his or her practice.