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In a busy medical practice it is nearly impossible to maintain a perfect reputation 100 percent of the time. Patients have different opinions and expectations of your practice and while most patients will sing your praises, you are bound to disappoint at least one. What do you do when this happens? Do you shy away from using online review sites for fear of a negative review from a patient? Don’t let fear keep you from growing your medical practice online. Here are seven secrets of negative patient reviews.

  1. Be proactive – Instead of sitting back hoping that a negative review does not happen, solicit feedback from all your patients. Hand out a card with your Google+ page on it. Patients will appreciate that you care enough to ask them to share their experience. You are also more likely to get positive reviews, which will help offset any negative ones.
  2. Respond to reviews quickly – Keep an eye on your reputation regularly. Respond quickly to any reviews, especially those that are negative. This shows the patient that their opinion had an impact on you.
  3. Always handle reviews courteously – While it may be your first response to hide or delete a negative review, we do not advise it. The best course of action is to address the negative review online and publicly. Do not be defensive when crafting your response. Offer a solution to the problem and be sure to deliver a genuine apology.
  4. Remember HIPAA when responding – It is important to protect your patients’ privacy when responding to any reviews. Be sure to avoid using language that confirms they are your patient and avoid mentioning any protected health information.
  5. Use negative reviews as a way to improve – Patient reviews provide great insight into how your practice is performing. If the patient had a problem with one of your employees, talk with that employee and determine what they can do differently in the future. If you are unable to make immediate change, inform the patient that you are working towards resolving the issue.
  6. Negative reviews don’t have to last forever – Many unhappy patients whom have had their problem addressed calmly and rationally actually remove their negative review. These patients may turn out to be your most loyal fans.
  7. Correct inaccurate reviews – While rare, inaccurate reviews do happen. If you find that someone has posted a negative review about you or your practice that is untrue or libelous, act quickly to have the review removed or corrected.

Patient reviews are one of the best medical marketing tools your practice can have in its’ arsenal. It is important to take the time to monitor and respond to online patient reviews. Doing so increases the likelihood of positive reviews while diluting the potential damage a negative review can make on your practice.