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When Patient Reviews Become Slander: Best practices for defeating negative reviews. Part Three: Defending Against Negative Patient Reviews

When Patient Reviews Become Slander: Best practices for defeating negative reviews.
Part Three: 
Defending Against Negative Patient Reviews

In any practice, negative reviews are inevitable. You can’t please everyone all the time. Negative reviews do impact your business, and that impact can be significant. Patients use both positive and negative reviews to guide their choices for healthcare providers.


(The type of reviews customers use to guide healthcare choices: Chart courtesy Gaby Loria, senior market researcher at Software Advice)

However, responding directly to negative online reviews in the wrong way can be just as costly as the review itself, or even more so. “People are not looking for perfection online. What they’re really looking for is humanity and a genuine response, so a negative review can be a great opportunity to respond in a positive and transparent manner,’ says Shama Kabani, author of The Zen of Social Media Marketing and CEO of The Marketing Zen Group. “And that has a good impact on all of your customers.”

Be Proactive

There are several ways to defend against negative reviews, but perhaps the greatest key is to be proactive. The best defense is a good offense. Having more positive reviews than negative ones is the key. But how do you get more positive reviews?

Make Review Invites a part of Operations Practice: If you want more reviews, you must ask for them Only a handful of patients will review your business on their own, and almost exclusively when they have a bad experience or an exceptional one.

Extend Invites in Moments that Matter: When inviting a patient to review your practice, timing is everything. Request reviews at patient discharge or soon after when the experience is fresh in their mind.

Start with Text Invites, Follow Up with Email: People respond to text messages much more rapidly than they do email. Make sure that your response software is mobile compatible. However, don’t discount email entirely. If you don’t get a response to a text message, follow up with an email shortly afterward.

Apply Pre-Screening Technology

One important way to keep bad reviews from appearing on a website before you have a chance to review and resolve the issue is to apply pre-screening software. This is software that routes reviewers to a specific location based on whether their experience was good or bad.

If the patient had a positive experience, the software routes the positive reviewer to the site where the provider needs the most reviews, whether that is Google, Yelp, Health Grader, or other sites that have been preloaded into the software.

If the patient had a negative experience, they are sent to a form where they can either anonymously or openly share their feedback. If the patient lets you know who they are, you can respond privately and attempt to resolve the situation. If they leave anonymous feedback, often just getting the experience off their chest provides them with enough satisfaction. Most of the time, they will not go on to leave a negative review on another website.

More Best Practices

There are other best practices you can implement to defend your practice against negative reviews.

Provide Patients with a Forum to air concerns: this forum should live on your website, and is a place you can respond to concerns.

Develop a policy for handling feedback: Train certain staff members to respond to online feedback and have a policy that outlines precise steps they should use to do so.

Utilize a Patient Satisfaction Survey: Along with your pre-screening technology, implement a follow up patient satisfaction survey. You can use this to improve your services and determine where issues are before they show up in public patient reviews.

Put up Satisfaction Signage in the Lobby: Have signs in the lobby or other patient areas that encourage patients to provide you and your staff with feedback about their experience. Be sure the signs let them know methods they can use to provide you with that feedback.

Have a suggestion box for physical rather than digital complaints (in the office): Not everyone is an internet user or will offer you digital feedback. Capture feedback from these patients by using a locked suggestion box, and be sure there are forms readily available.

With the right proactive strategies, you can defend your practice against negative reviews and encourage your patients to leave more positive reviews. This will protect the online reputation of you and your business.

Want to read more? Download our 2017 Guide to Online Patient Review Management or Read Part One and Part Two in this series. You can also receive a demo of the EMPATHIQ software from an online reputation management expert.

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