No matter how enraged a doctor might be about a negative patient review, it’s a fact of professional life, which needs to be dealt with. In addition to doctor-focused sites like Healthgrades.com, RateMDs.com and Vitals physician rating website that present patient satisfaction in aggregate. Broader sites like Yelp, and errant comments on social media services can cut into a doctor’s reputation. According to Pew Research’s Health Fact Sheet, 72% of patients use the Internet to learn about their medical condition. And 20% read physician reviews.

Tips that can turn negative comments into positive ones

  • Don’t ignore comments by patients. Always look for the grain of truth that could help you make a positive change in a practice.
  • Don’t sue. Most review sites protect the identity of the reviewer. You’ll look like a bully, and First Amendment protections will make it highly unlikely you’ll win.
  • Encourage patient reviews instead of discouraging them. This will dilute the impact of the outliers who might be more upset about your wait times and billing procedures than your prowess as a physician.
  • Patients are more educated than ever before. Over half use the internet to research their condition before an office visit. Go with the flow and provide HIPPA compliant information of your own on Facebook or Twitter.
  • If a negative patient review is deserved, consider responding with a message about how you will rectify the situation. This builds the physician’s credibility and shows that she listens to her patients.
  • Instead of reacting to social reviews, join the conversation about health topics. You’ll learn what patients are thinking and the trends that are swaying their attitudes.

Reviews, in general, are now part of the Internet’s fabric. Doctors, ad agencies, pet shops, car washes, restaurants all get them. Handle them right, and they could improve your practice or hospital’s reputation.