Tips for managing patient reviews for independent physicians

In times past, someone looking for a new primary care physician probably asked friends, co-workers, or neighbors for recommendations. The conversations were focused on the pros and cons of the physician’s practice and were generally held one-on-one or in small group settings at home or in the workplace. In today’s virtual world, consumers tend to post their experiences online for many more people to see. Unhappy patients may take to the Internet to post reviews that will then be seen by anyone who is looking for a new primary care physician.

If you are that physician, you may get some negative online reviews as well as positive ones. The way you handle those reviews could make a difference in the way future patients see your practice and the way your practice is ranked by search engines. Positive reviews are obviously welcomed, but negative reviews need to be acknowledged and handled as well. You may even receive some false reviews and should respond to those appropriately also.

A recent article in Physicians Practice advises that patients may “post negative reviews because they wish to be heard and expect a response from your end.” While it is tempting to ignore the complaints or negative information, those are the reviews that need the most attention. Some tips for managing all patient reviews include:

  • Monitor your online presence regularly. You may need to assign a staff member to scan the online review sites as well as your own digital presence on a daily basis. Negative reviews that do not receive a prompt response can only get worse.
  • Respond directly to the negative reviews. Post a warm, acknowledging message for the reviewer and everyone else to see. Note that you’d like to communicate directly with the patient posting the negative review, to resolve the situation privately.
  • Ask for positive reviews from satisfied patients. If a patient has expressed to you in person that he or she is particularly happy about your use of an EHR, for example, ask that patient to post that message online.

Patient engagement is particularly important for encouraging positive reviews. Stay proactive with patients to determine any concerns they may have with your practice as well as their healthcare needs. Managing your online reviews well will help maintain your professional reputation among patients and potential patients.