We’ve talked about the importance of building an online presence and opening up pages where patients can leave reviews (like Facebook, Google, and Yelp to name a few). Unfortunately with these comes the possibility of negative feedback.
It’s normal for anyone to want to respond to negative reviews by defending themselves or even getting aggressive, but as a healthcare provider you must keep your cool. In general, you should always respond to negative reviews because it shows prospective patients that you recognize criticism and are actively working to improve your practice.
Read on for some tips on responding to negative reviews.
Three Ways to Respond to Negative Patient Reviews
1. Stay in Line with HIPPA
This is the golden rule of responding to reviews online. Patient privacy laws will greatly hinder your ability to respond to patient comments online, but here’s how you can do so while staying compliant and protecting your patients.
Just do not disclose any protected health information in your response. Even if your patient disclosed information in their initial review, you do not have permission to do the same. It’s always best to say too little, rather than too much.
2. Focus on Improvement
Patients want to see that you’re focused on making improvements. Keep your reply centered around this idea. While their review may be frustrating, it is one of your only opportunities to get completely honest feedback, so take that fair criticism and pledge to use it to improve your practice.
3. Be Wary of Apologies
Sure, there are instances in which an apology is a simple solution.
For example, if your office phone has gone unanswered or a patient had to wait 20 minutes for an appointment, but in other cases you should withhold apologies. If a patient accuses malpractice or wrongdoing, your online apology could be harmful to you in the case of any legal action.
When dealing with poor patient feedback and negative reviews, it’s best to speak generally and kindly. Remember that less is more in this approach, and one bad review will not destroy your reputation. If a particular review seems concerning or follow-up would apply, invite the patient for an offline conversation.
We recommend choosing a day or two each week to respond to social media and online reviews, rather than responding immediately after one is posted. Give yourself time to process the review and avoid coming off as angry.
Don’t shy away from reviews! These are opportunities for growth and open feedback that may otherwise be difficult to get from patients.
Suggested Responses to Negative Patient Reviews
Still not really sure how to respond? Try out a few of these examples to get an idea of appropriate replies.
- Hi name, thank you for reaching out to us. We would like to hear more about your experience. If you could, please give us a call.
- Hello name, we appreciate your comments and have forwarded them to our practice manager for further investigation.
- Thanks for your feedback, name. Our practice manager will be reaching out to you as soon as possible to learn more about your experience.
These three examples are just a rough idea of appropriate responses, so feel free to change them up to fit your practice and your patient’s comment.
For more tips for your practice’s online reputation, check out this recent post.
The Steeplechase Company has been guiding leaders in healthcare for over two decades.