Getting a negative patient review can be very defeating, but if not handled properly, it can cause a lot more damage than most practices realize. It can inadvertently cause a HIPAA violation or cause the loss of a new potential patient who reads your response. While you can’t delete a negative Google review, you do have control of how you respond, which is more critical than getting one in the first place. (“It’s not what happens to you; it’s how you respond to what happens to you that matters.”)
Take action outside of the public eye.
The first thing to do is to contact the patient directly by phone. Do not email or message the patient. Give the patient a call to investigate what happened.
At no time should you confirm that they are a patient, even if the patient has identified themselves as a patient; this is a HIPAA violation. Any response should be generic and quote policy or thank them for their review (not feedback) that “will help future patients to feel comfortable” with your practice.
If the patient has unrealistic expectations and you were already prepared for this outcome, it’s best to dismiss the patient from your practice in a letter through the mail. In most cases like this, it will only continue to escalate.
The best defensive strategy is a solid offensive strategy
Your first line of defense against all negative reviews is to have an internal process to request Google reviews from happy patients consistently. If your office requests Google reviews daily, it won’t affect you as much when you get a negative review.
Here are a couple of quick, easy strategies for your office.
- Print a QR code sign and post it at check out for patients to see and use.
- Train staff to recognize when a patient is saying how happy they are with their outcome and ask the patient to leave a Google review. Asking for reviews is the most challenging thing for doctors and staff. You can say: “Would you help Dr. Smith by leaving a Google review? That is the most effective way for other patients to learn how he can help them.” This statement is mission-driven, which has a better possibility of success than simply asking them to do something.
- We have the highest success of patients leaving Google reviews when the doctor is the one asking.
If the negative review is from someone you have verified is not a patient, you can respond: “I think you have left this review in error because we do not have a patient on file with your name. Please call our office so we can help direct you to the correct doctor’s office.”
An example reply for a negative review was about insurance billing and not office policy “(Patient Name). We, unfortunately, do not set the guidelines for insurance. Since this review is related to an insurance issue, we recommend that you contact your employer or insurance company to share your concerns.”
Reviews are the most effective way to increase your patient base, and it’s also the quickest way to turn off referring physicians and potential referrals. Not making patient reviews a priority is no longer an option for any orthopedic surgeon. Let us help you with this. Give us a call or fill out a contact form for a consultation on how we can help you automate your online reputation management.