As technology has advanced over the years, dependence on the internet for business reasons has increased significantly. People conduct research online for everything from the cheapest hotels to the best primary care physicians. This research generally includes online reviews of products, services, and professionals.
While online reviews can be beneficial to a business, they can often have a negative affect as well. Online review sites such as Yelp and others social media sites are often referred to as the internet “Wall of Shame,” since users tend to try to shame businesses, and warn others not to use them. Therefore it’s vital for a practice to have someone routinely check these sites in order to guard against disgruntled patients and to maintain their reputations within the community.
Repercussions of a Bad Online Review
One angry patient who decides to write a negative review online can be detrimental to a medical practice. Not only does the review hurt the reputation of the practice, but it can also affect visit numbers, which in turn affects revenue. Because most patients are assessing and comparing different doctors based on online reviews, a bad note can stop someone from seeing a specific doctor or contacting a practice for an appointment.
Solutions to Combat the Online Review Wall of Shame
Unlike other businesses, HIPAA laws limit what a practice can say online in response to a negative review. In order to maintain their reputations, the practice should consider the following ideas.
- Write a sensitive and sincere rebuttal. For example, if a patient complains that the wait was too long one day, but there was a legitimate reason for the wait time, respectfully explain the reason. As long as the response is thoughtfully written and sounds apologetic and sincere, most potential patients will overlook the bad review.
- Ask happy patients for good reviews. As a rule of thumb, there should be at least three positive reviews for each negative one. If potential patients see two to three times as many positive reviews as negative reviews, they are more likely to give a doctor or practice the benefit of the doubt.
- Contact the reviewer. See if there is something that can be done to rectify the situation and then ask them to write a follow-up describing the outcome. While this option often requires extra time and effort, it will be worth it to erase any negative feelings and perceptions.
- Make necessary changes. If a bad review was justified, take advantage of the opportunity for improvement. Take ownership of the problem, then follow up by thanking the patient online and describing publicly how similar situations will be handled in the future.
While a bad review can surely be harmful to medical practices, taking the steps noted above will reduce – if not eliminate – the negative repercussions from bad reviews. Be aware of any and all online reviews regarding the practice, and take action to maintain a good reputation by responding appropriately to negative reviews.
Do not ignore negative online comments. Assign someone to routinely monitor internet review sites to identify negative ratings, then take actions as described above.
We at Netgain would be happy to assist you in assuring that you know how to address and overcome the effects of appearing on the “Internet Wall of Shame”. You can call us at 877-797-4700.