When Patient Reviews Become Slander: Best practices for defeating negative reviews.
Part One: Your Patients are Your Customers
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Patients have often been viewed as clinical subjects, but those healthcare providers who are the most successful understand that in today’s market, patients are customers. Thanks in large part to the Affordable Care Act, patients have the ability to shop around for providers. Understanding how this impacts interactions with patients is essential.
Patients Have Choice
The Department of Health and Human Services continues to improve the Affordable Care Act, and for this year’s open enrollment period added “Simple Choice Plans” designed to mitigate the cost of high-deductible plans. Patients have more choices than ever before when it comes to doctors, clinics, and hospitals.
It is easier than ever for patients to search for and find information about providers. Healthcare.gov, insurance companies, and other websites offer tools for patients to compare providers using information about medical specialty, clinical training, quality-of-care measures ratings, and health inspection reports. As a result, patients are making more informed decisions.
Patients Have a Voice
Patients often do not even get to those sites, as they start their search on the internet, often on their mobile phones. The statement if a patient has a negative experience they will tell ten of their friends, and if they have a positive experience they may only tell two or three is no longer true. Patients can now share their experience with many more people at the touch of a button.
Social Media: Sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram allow patients to “check in” to your office or facility and share their experience in real time. While their perception of what is happening in the waiting room might be tainted by their mood or something else they are experiencing that day, they can still broadcast it to all their followers or friends instantly, and the results can be significant.
Such negative comments are hard to track and deal with effectively, The patient may not say anything to you or your staff once they have vented their frustrations on social media.
Review Sites: Healthcare has become one of the most reviewed services on the internet, with over 70 sites dedicated to reviews of providers and physicians. Two of the most common, Google and Yelp, show up when a patient does an initial internet search for your practice depending on which browser they use.
Blogs: Often patients share their experiences on a blog, and if it is well written and popular, the number of views each post gets can be significant.
When these patients have a negative experience, they often share that experience with their readers. These readers can number in the hundreds or even thousands.
Patients Expect to Be Heard
The most successful providers offer more than one way for their patients to offer feedback. When patients do share their negative experiences with your office, they expect to be heard and to have their issues addressed promptly.
The key as a provider is to ask for patient feedback at the time of their visit or shortly after, so positive feedback can be curated and evaluated properly, and negative comments can be responded to right away before a public review is posted.
Patient Reviews Impact Your Business
Reviews assist potential patients in evaluating and selecting a new provider. According to a survey by Dimensional Research, 86% percent of consumers said negative reviews helped change their mind about using a service. Most reviewers were more frustrated by how long it took to resolve an issue than by the resolution itself.
Statics Courtesy Dimensional Research
Over half of respondents checked online reviews before calling a provider, and while Facebook was one of the number one places for finding positive reviews, online review sites were the number one source for negative reviews.
Healthcare providers cannot ignore the fact that patients have choices regarding where they get their services. These patients have a voice, and expect to be heard, Negative reviews have an impact on your business, and you can’t afford not to have a strategy for dealing with them. Want to learn more? Check out our webinar, read our newest ebook, and consider using an online healthcare reputation management service like Empathiq.