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Did Your Medical Office Get a Bad Review? The Dos and Don'ts of Handling Negative Reviews

Online reviews have become a driving factor for most people in search of a medical provider. According to results of the Master Patient Experience Survey, 94% of prospective patients use online reviews when evaluating or choosing a healthcare provider. Given this statistic, it's more important than ever to make sure you monitor and handle patient reviews properly - especially reviews that paint your practice in an unflattering light. Below are some Dos and Don'ts for handling bad reviews of your medical office.


DO respond to bad reviews quickly

Of all the recommendations outlined in this article, this one is the most important. Responding quickly to a negative review shows the patient you value their time and feedback. A fast response is also a testament to your professionalism and ability to handle challenges smoothly and swiftly.


"Write your response sooner rather than later. A response to a positive review will appear more meaningful and genuine if you deliver it quickly. You don't have to respond mere minutes after the review is published, but don't wait more than 24 hours." - Eric Christopher, Founder and CEO of BizFamous.

DO thank the patient for sharing their comments

Even if a patient's comments are negative, you should still thank them for their feedback. After all, feedback from your patients can help you improve your services, shape your practice, and boost patient satisfaction. Thanking reviewers for their comments also encourages all of your patients - including the many who leave positive reviews - to continue to share their thoughts and opinions. Most important, you demonstrate a professional attitude.


DO propose a specific resolution

Once you have acknowledged the patient's pain points and thanked them for their feedback, you need to propose a way to resolve the patient's complaint or issue. As you share your response, do your best to specific and succinct. Here is an example of a specific response you could provide to a patient who posts a negative review about their experience with appointment scheduling:


"Thank you for your valuable feedback about the scheduling challenges you experienced at our office. We continually strive to improve our scheduling procedures and would like to invite you to contact us directly with any suggestions you may have. In the meantime, our office manager will contact you to personally schedule your next appointment to help prevent any future problems."


Remember to follow through on any promises you make or the patient's frustration may end up intensifying.


DO be aware of the most common types of complaints

The path to a stellar reputation begins with awareness of the most common types of negative reviews. While unfavorable reviews can vary according to practice type, the majority of complaints tend to fall into one of six general categories:

  • Frustration with staff behavior

  • Prolonged wait times to see the doctor

  • Scheduling problems

  • Feeling undervalued or unheard

  • Frustration related to billing and insurance

  • Insufficient time spent with the doctor

By monitoring your negative reviews, you may find that your negative reviews are related to two or three central issues. Once you isolate these issues, you can take steps to address them and reduce negative feedback from patients.


DON'T ignore bad reviews

As a busy healthcare professional, you may find it difficult to find time to monitor or respond to online reviews. But failing to respond to a review can make a bad situation even worse. For starters, the patient's frustration grows because they feel you are ignoring their feedback. Meanwhile, prospective patients will read the review online and notice you haven't responded. This may cause them to jump to the conclusion that the review was accurate. Even worse, they may view you as an unresponsive provider because you didn't reply to the review.


DON'T argue with the reviewer

Sometimes you may run across a negative review that is untruthful or completely unjustified. This type of negative review is often the most challenging to handle gracefully because you may feel your character or integrity is under fire. While you may feel angry or frustrated, it's important to keep your cool as you respond to the reviewer. This means refraining from casting blame on the reviewer (even if the blame is deserved) and resisting the temptation to argue with the reviewer.


DON'T issue a generic response

If a patient is frustrated enough to take the time to write a negative review, the last thing they want is to receive an automatic or hastily prepared generic response from you. Receiving a generic message that is not specific to the patient's complaint can push an already discouraged patient to the brink of frustration. After all, no two patients are exactly alike and their complaints should be addressed individually with a personal touch.


If you are temporarily unable to provide a personalized response, you may find that your only option is to issue a standardized reply to complaints. If you must take this path, make sure you make it clear that you are temporarily unable to personally address their concerns. For example, you might say, "Thank you for sharing your concerns with us. Your feedback is valuable to us and we will personally reach out to you upon our return on (specify date)." Then, be sure to follow up with a personalized message as soon as your schedule permits.


What is the single best way to manage your online reviews?


Receiving a negative review is never a pleasant experience. But if you handle a poor review quickly and professionally, you can turn an unpleasant situation into a chance to showcase your strengths as a medical specialist. By following the simple tips above, you can help ensure an occasional negative review does not tarnish your reputation as a trusted healthcare provider.


The single best way to manage your online reviews is to proactively request reviews from patients. DearDoc is an experienced healthcare marketing company that offers a proactive review solution from patients. Our solution is simple to use and boosts the likelihood that your patients will leave a positive review. More important, you can spend less time monitoring your reviews and devote more time improving the quality of care you deliver to patients.


We invite you to reach out to us at DearDoc to discover why healthcare providers across America turn to us to for guidance with their patient review management. We look forward to becoming your trusted resource for all of your healthcare marketing needs!

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