Social media and review sites are here to stay. In fact, 47 percent of patients check a provider’s online status before scheduling an appointment and 24% of physicians reported getting new patients from social media.
So like it or not, your profile is out there and you’ll get reviews.
How do you protect your online reputation?
First of all, be proactive to avoid getting negative reviews.
Emphasize keeping in touch with patient needs and perspectives. Timing is important -- the key is to give patients a chance to give feedback and comment to you first -- before they broadcast it on social media. Having an option for patients to flag and address concerns in the office will help improve the patient experience; reducing the chances of the patient airing that issue online.
Patient satisfaction feedback can also be complimentary; helping highlight what you and your staff are doing well. There are many ways to obtain and measure it, either in the office or immediately following the visit or service.
But even the best practices occasionally get negative feedback, so be prepared. How you handle the response affects your online reputation as well.
What are the keys to handling a negative review?
Act Promptly. Monitor reviews of your practice. Although it might be tempting to ignore a bad review, it's not going to go away. If an unflattering review or complaint comes up, it needs to be addressed right way. But before you answer, take a step back and try to see the situation from the patient’s perspective.
Respect Privacy. It’s important to be careful of any HIPAA protected information. Even if the patient shares their medical information, make sure you don’t confirm or deny its validity. Ask them to contact your office, and if the patient identified themselves, contact them privately to discuss.
Acknowledge their viewpoint. If there was a misunderstanding or mistake, apologize. Show them what is being done (or has been done) to address the situation. Often, once you solve the problem with the patient, they’ll take down their post.
Be courteous and professional. While it may be tempting to answer a rude post with the same tone, or hide, delete or even ban a reviewer, it’s much better to show the reviewer that you care about all patient opinions. Always thank patients for taking the time to share their opinions and let them know you value the feedback they provide.
There are some exceptions:
If a review contains libelous statements or is from a person who has never visited your practice, have them taken down immediately, before it causes any damage. If you send them a clear explanation as to why the content is problematic and why it is important for the content to be removed, most review sites will take down any libelous statements; legal action can be used as a last resort.
In this world of social media and reviews, it’s important to keep your online reputation positive. Get regular feedback from your patients and encourage them to leave you reviews. A variety of reviews can dilute any negatives. It will also give individuals researching a better perspective of whether your practice will be a fit for their needs.
Thanks for reading!
Broad Reach Marketing provides practical, effective marketing for healthcare providers and other professionals. Contact us if we can help you with branding, patient satisfaction or communication processes.
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