How To Respond To Negative Patient Reviews

How To Respond To Negative Patient Reviews

Access to the internet is easier than ever, and the increased opportunity for negative patient reviews can be a terrifying prospect for some physicians. You could offer the very best service in the world, but the ease with which a single patient can tarnish your reputation with a negative review is a genuine concern for doctors, surgeons and health care providers across the board.

Reputable doctors put the needs of their patients first in every situation, meaning that a negative review feels like a personal attack and a potential dent in your reputation that can be hard to swallow. However, receiving a poor review is not necessarily an unsolvable problem, and there are ways to help maintain your excellent reputation, both online and in real life.

If you are worried about how to respond to a negative patient review, here is a four-step plan to help you convert every negative review into a positive patient experience going forward. Review response and generation should be part of the marketing strategy for any doctor’s office.

1. Get More Positive Reviews

One of the best ways to lessen the impact of a negative review is to have all of the patients that love you and your clinic to leave a positive review, but leaving it up to the patient will leave you with a less than desirable result. The solution is to ask routine happy patients for a review. The patients that would leave a good review are in your practice, they just need a little prompting. You or your staff can ask the patients directly or you can have automated software running that will email or SMS patients asking them to leave a review for your practice. 

Call us at 469.546.9106 or fill out the form for a free review analysis

2. Address It

You may wish that the reviewers would delete their unkind review, or hope that by not responding, it will just go away, but this is highly unlikely. Even with complaints that have no real foundation or truth to them, you must address the content. If the negative review is concerning their specific medical condition, diagnosis or treatment, you will need to protect client confidentiality at all times respond to them privately, always keep HIPAA in mind and don’t post any identifying information.

If there was a genuine misunderstanding, or their visit to your offices did not go as planned, then apologize and explain why this happened and what actions you have put in place to prevent this happening again.

Sometimes, there is no real basis behind the review, and the individual purely felt aggrieved because the result was not what they were expecting, despite you having done nothing wrong. These types of negative reviews are frustrating but do offer the opportunity to address the reasons why they may be disappointed. As much as this type of review may irk you, it is essential to remain polite and non-aggressive in the tone of your reply.

Some patients will always have unrealistic expectations, but you should always thank them for their review and remain as courteous as possible. Never ask them to take down a review, as this can create distrust and undermines the doctor-patient relationship.

3. Review What Went Wrong

A public slating is an opportunity for an internal review. Sometimes, processes can become slack, staff can become disinterested, or we can become nonchalant about the services we provide.

A negative review is an excellent opportunity to re-assess the customer service you offer and explore new avenues to help manage patient expectations.

Either on your own or with the help of your team, consider the following questions:

  • Why did this happen, and why did the patient feel this way?
  • Is there something we could have done to prevent it?
  • Have we received negative feedback about this before?
  • Should we consider a change or improvement?

When you have thought about the answers to these questions in detail, look at ways in which you can change your current operational procedures to prevent the same situation occurring in the future.

A legitimate negative review will be based on something that went wrong. This could be a significant issue that needs immediate action or a smaller (but still important) concern about customer service levels that can be addressed with ongoing training or performance reviews. Find the cause of the problem, and redress it.

4. Turn It Into A Positive Opportunity

This may sound like a glib cliche, but there is plenty of merit behind this statement. Even if you receive just one single negative review throughout the course of your career, it can sting and may make you lose both your confidence and your focus.

Bill Gates famously said that “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest sources of learning,” and this is so true. Poor patient experience is an opportunity to up your game, which in turn could grow your reputation, not stunt it.

By taking the time to fully understand the nature of the patient’s complaint either publicly or privately, you are giving them the opportunity to express their emotions. Denying a disappointed individual a voice can escalate the problem very quickly, so always let them talk, write or express their feelings fully, before you reply.

Once you have clarified the basis for their negative review, thoroughly analyze what caused the situation to begin with and, make policy changes to keep it from happening in the future.

Finally, reach out to the reviewer to tell them what you have done to prevent the situation from happening again, and never be afraid to invite them back to see for themselves.

Most people post negative reviews because they are frustrated and want to be heard. By not only listening to their point of view but by also engaging with them and involving them in the process of preventing it from happening again, you are winning them over.

If you handle your negative reviews just right, don’t be surprised to find out that you haven’t lost a patient, but instead gained several new ones.

Nobody likes to receive a bad review, but when it comes to the medical profession, it can be doubly disappointing. Reputable and highly qualified medical staff build their business and their reputation on offering first class service at all times. To have your good name sullied by a bad review can seem devastating.

Should you be on the receiving end of a negative review, learn from it and move forward. Fake reviews should always be reported to the review site they are published on, and you may need to accept that some people will never be happy, however much you do for them.

Focus instead on positive feedback, and learn to take the odd negative review on the chin. Provided you respond in good faith, and address any changes that need to be made in your office, you will recover from the occasional poor review. If you’re looking for medical SEO or paid search for healthcare, contact Telos Digital Marketing.

Like this article?

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on Linkdin
Share on Pinterest

Leave a comment

Picture of Devin McHatten, MBA

About the author

Devin McHatten, MBA

Find out more