For patients, online reviews have become an ideal platform to provide feedback about their experiences at a physician’s office. Surveys have even shown that potential patients are more likely to schedule a first-time appointment with a physician who has had favorable online reviews.

For physicians, online reviews can also provide important feedback – not just about their care, but also about the patient’s overall experience, whether it’s easy of parking or wait time. But negative reviews can be damaging and learning how to handle them appropriately is vital.

Additionally, as a physician you also have to be careful to monitor your own social media sites to make sure you’re not posting information that could be harmful and/or puts you in a negative light. Here are some things to keep in mind.

Respond – Quickly, if Possible

While you might be tempted to delete a negative review, your best strategy is to respond to it unless it’s a review that’s offensive in some way. Respond with professionalism and kindness; confrontation only make you look bad and has the potential to make the situation even worse. Also, while you don’t have to respond the minute a negative review appears, don’t let it linger. Responding in a timely manner shows that you’re actively listening to your patients and their concerns.

If Possible, Move the Conversation Offline

If you can identify the reviewer, it’s best to move the conversation offline before HIPAA-protected information is potentially exposed.  Reach out to them by phone, if possible, and let them know that you appreciate that they’ve taken the time to leave a review – even if it was negative.

Write an Honest Response

If the reviewer’s claims are legitimate, respond to it by apologizing for the negative experience and then focus on what you plan to do to investigate the problem and assure that it won’t happen again. Don’t be defensive, and definitely don’t disclose any information that would be a violation of HIPAA rules. Short, sweet and sincere is a good rule of thumb for your responses. 

Dispute Reviews That Aren’t Legitimate

Some sites are easier than others when it comes to disputing reviews but it’s worth the effort if the review has incorrect information, is slanderous, or isn’t from a valid patient. In most cases, the number of reviews you can leave will be limited, but it’s the right strategy in removing damaging content that’s false. 

Keep Your Social Media Sites ‘Clean’

Dealing appropriately with negative reviews is obviously important for your practice but so is carefully monitoring your personal social media sites. As a physician, you need to be extra careful about the kind of information you make public. Consider the following strategies:

  • Set Your Privacy Settings to High

    Make sure that the privacy settings on all of your social media accounts are set as high as possible. This prevents people who aren’t personal connections from seeing an excess of information.

  • Establish Separate Accounts

    Many physicians choose to have separate personal and professional accounts. Some patients have even posted medial questions on a physician’s Facebook and other accounts.

  • Think Carefully Before Posting

    Take a moment and reflect before every post and update. It can be easy to mindlessly post things on social media sites, so take a few seconds before you post – no matter how mundane the information seems.

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