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How to Handle Bad Online Reviews


Tips For Handling Your Online Reputation

In the past, a Physician's reputation was based on word of mouth from patients and colleagues in their local community. Today, things are very different with online patient comments and opinions shaping much of a Physician's reputation. According to a Software Advice survey, 84% of patients used online reviews to evaluate Physicians. We live in a wired world where in a matter of seconds a patient comment or review of your performance can be broadcast for all to see. These online reviews can negatively influence your reputation and deter prospective patients seeking care. To ensure you maintain a positive online profile consider following these simple strategies:

An Ounce of Prevention...

A great way to create a positive online presence is to ensure that patients are satisfied with their care and feel like their voices are heard. This effort should start while patients are in your clinic and not after they are home posting an online complaint. It is essential to provide patients an opportunity to elicit their feedback at every visit. Many patients may be afraid to tell the doctor directly what their concerns are but may feel more comfortable talking with your staff. Emphasize to patients that you welcome their feedback and want their experience to be the best it can be. To increase the likelihood of getting patients feedback during a visit you may want to consider using these techniques:

  • At the conclusion of their discharge instructions have the nurse elicit feedback about their experience
  • Have the checkout desk provide the patient with a comment card
  • Place a patient feedback box in a commons area

Responding to a Review

Responding to negative online reviews can be complicated and leave you vulnerable to possible litigation. While a majority of patients surveyed felt that it was important for Physicians to comment on negative reviews, many reputation experts suggest that you avoid replying (1). Medicine is a unique industry in that confidentiality restrictions limit your ability to openly respond to online critics. If you feel compelled to address negative reviews consider these approaches:

  • Invite the reviewer to contact your clinic to further discuss the complaint
  • Address the topic associated with the complaint in generalized terms being sure to avoid patient specific commentary
  • Emphasize that you appreciate all kinds of feedback

Hire an Expert

There are dozens of Healthcare related review apps out there and more being created every day. To effectively monitor your online reputation on multiple platforms you should strongly consider assigning a staff member to the task or hire a professional. Hiring a pro can be especially beneficial if you have any negative reviews or notable reputation damage. Many online management companies provide varying levels of service. Some may provide comprehensive services that include social media monitoring or SEO enhancement for your website in addition to preventing or repairing online reputation damage. The fees associated with these services can vary considerably based on the company and the degree of services provided.

Lastly, Think Before You Post

It may seem like common sense but think before you post to your professional or personal online accounts. There are countless examples of professionals that email or post something online that comes back to haunt them. Before you post online ask yourself if this could offend someone or be taken out of context. Written words don't convey sarcasm or emotions like face-to-face conversations do. Things can be misinterpreted by third parties that may not know you as well as your friends or associates do.


(1)Gaby Loria, "How Patients Use Online Reviews". Software Advice. Accessed 11/29/16.