How Managing Negative Reviews Can Help Improve Patient Satisfaction

“This doctor is scum, a cheater! Visit him only if you want to get robbed for a pathetic treatment.” This is a snippet of a real review by a real patient on a well-known physician's review website – in the internet world things can sometimes get harsh. Where a bulk of positive reviews can help your business gain a great online reputation among your patients; even a few inflammatory comments (like the one given above), can compel many of your prospective patients to withdraw their interest in your service, at any time sooner or later. [Tweet "How Managing Negative Reviews Can Help Improve Patient Satisfaction"]

Counter-Argument Won't Help

A direct rebuttal of the reviewer or a response clarifying about your position in respect to what you were accused of won't help. You may even get unwantedly involved in a spat with the reviewer patient, which will only show you under a negative light to other patients. Furthermore, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and state privacy laws prevent physicians from responding directly to the negative commentary online.

How Review Management Links to Patient Satisfaction

By tactfully responding to the negative reviews, you can actually turn even your most angry patients into your most loyal ones. By 'tactful response', we mean a combination of a concern-indicating reply and some countermeasures to eliminate the very cause of anger, thus improving patient satisfaction. Review management isn't just about working on increasing the number of positive reviews and decreasing the amount of negative reviews about your practice. It's also about taking clues from the negative reviews, as to where you lack as a service provider; and what you can do to improve on those fronts, providing a better experience and satisfaction to your patients. [Tweet "A tactful response to a negative review can help turn your angry patients into your most loyal ones."]

Why Exactly You Need to Manage Reviews

Studies suggest that your patients are more likely to leave reviews if they leave your office unhappy, than when they leave happy and satisfied. Even if your patient found you the traditional way, they are still going to the internet to validate their feelings, again especially when they are not happy with your service. In our recent Patient Satisfaction Benchmark Survey 2017 for dental practices, primary cares, and urgent cares, we found these:
  • Only 43-44% of those patients exhibiting “content” emotion showed high sentiments for the providers. This suggests room for dentists to improve their communication with patients and solidify their relationship with patients.
  • Intensity of the majority of patients showing “trust” emotion was medium, thus leaving room for improvement on establishing trust between patients & dentists.
  • Similar to “trust”, patients “anger” emotion intensity was medium; suggesting room for patient recovery by handling unhappy patients proactively.
  • Also, 89-92% of patients were reported to be “content” with their dentist, primary care, and urgent care visits, but their intensity of emotion for their service providers were majorly medium to low.
This indicates a necessity of instituting programs by the dentists and healthcare providers for increasing patient satisfaction.

In the End

Improving patient satisfaction largely depends on how you stand on your patient's expectations. Responding tactfully to their negative reviews is the first step towards understanding and dealing with their possible bad experience with you.

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Ajay Prasad
Ajay Prasad

Ajay Prasad is the founder and CEO of RepuGen, a leading healthcare reputation management solution that helps practices grow through regular review generation, patient recovery, and retention. Ajay believes that providing clients with the opportunity to take control of their online reputation will improve patient experience and the overall success of the healthcare business. See how RepuGen can help you.