negative online reviews

Negative Online Reviews in Healthcare: How to Improve & Prevent Them

Online reviews have the power to make or break any healthcare organization. While positive reviews help build a practice’s reputation and attract new patients, negative reviews cause serious damage to a practice. Even a few bad reviews have a number of consequences for any business, so it makes sense for providers to educate themselves about how to prevent them and be well-prepared to tackle them if they roll in.

If your healthcare organization wants to grow and better manage its online reputation, here are a few of the impacts of negative online reviews – and best of all, how to address and prevent them!

Negative Effects of Online Reviews in Practices

Decrease in Patient Confidence

According to a 2022 statistic, 94% of consumers have avoided a business after reading a bad review. The same holds true for any healthcare organization! Reading negative online reviews significantly decreases patient confidence about a practice. A negative review claiming that a physician did not listen to their patient or showed a lack of expertise results in someone looking elsewhere for care. Because of this, it’s important to take steps to maintain and improve your reputation by consistently providing excellent care and addressing any concerns that patients may have.

Loss of Potential Patients

A recent report indicated that 89% of customers won’t take action until they’ve read online reviews. Since patients are “customers” too, keep this statistic in mind when aiming for patient growth. When someone seeking a new physician reads a negative review about you, it deters them from visiting your practice. Patients who have had a poor experience with a healthcare provider are more likely to leave negative feedback than those who have had a positive experience, and a single negative review holds more power than a handful of positive ones.  In fact, one study found that it takes 40 positive reviews to make up for a single negative review! 

Legal Implications

Negative reviews carry legal implications as well. You  must maintain a duty of care towards your patients, and any criticism posted online that suggests a breach of this duty can potentially lead to legal action. Moreover, patient satisfaction surveys and online reviews are used in the healthcare industry to monitor and evaluate quality of care, so if too many are negative, this could affect the fate of your practice. Because of these factors, it’s important for healthcare providers to engage with their patients to help address any concerns and take appropriate steps to fix them in order to mitigate any legal risks.

Handling Negative Online Reviews

Timely and Professional Responses

It’s crucial to respond to online reviews promptly and professionally. Timely responses show that you take patient satisfaction seriously. If a patient has a positive experience, a thank you note is more than warranted. In cases where reviews are negative, take the time to address the issue, apologize for any inconvenience, and provide additional information or steps to rectify the situation. This approach shows that you’re empathetic and dedicated towards patient care. Additionally, responding to negative reviews allows you to rectify any misconceptions or concerns that may have been raised in the reviews. As a result, it not only improves your online reputation but also helps build trust with current and potential patients.

Take Criticism Constructively

Constructive criticism is an essential tool for improvement in any business, especially in the healthcare industry where patients’ health is at stake. It’s crucial to take these reviews seriously and address the concerns raised by the patients. Constructive criticism helps you identify areas that need improvement and provide insights into what patients are looking for in healthcare services. Taking corrective action helps practices maintain their reputation and improve patient satisfaction. Moreover, listening to feedback helps practices build a stronger relationship with their patients and gain their trust. Try to reframe the negative review as an opportunity rather than a threat!

Minimizing the Impact of Negative Online Reviews

Encourage Satisfied Patients to Leave Positive Reviews

After any great patient visit, encourage satisfied patients to write positive reviews to help counterbalance any negative ones that arise. To help encourage these reviews, some organizations offer incentives like discounts, free services, or a chance to win a prize to motivate customers to write positive online reviews. Give them easy access and guidance on how to leave reviews on platforms like Google and Yelp. Also take the time to respond to both positive and negative reviews to show your patients that you value their feedback. By implementing these strategies, healthcare practices increase their online presence while attracting new patients.

Implement Patient Satisfaction Surveys to Address Concerns

Implementing patient satisfaction surveys is a powerful way to understand patient concerns within a practice. By gathering feedback, any healthcare provider has the power to identify their strengths and weaknesses from an outsider’s perspective. Here are some steps to accomplish this:

  • Determine the goals of the survey. Will it be used to evaluate the overall patient experience or focus on a specific aspect of care? 
  • Decide on the survey method. Will it be paper-based, emailed, or given through an online portal? 
  • Once the survey is complete, analyze the results and make changes based on the feedback received. 
  • Ensure that you communicate with patients about the changes made and the next steps towards improving their experience. 

Patient satisfaction surveys are a powerful tool to enhance the quality of care and build a strong relationship with patients. Consider using one to improve your practice, especially if you’re looking for feedback in a specific area!

Invest in Online Reputation Management Services

In today’s digital age, online reputation management is no longer an option for providers – it’s a necessity! Investing in a reputation management service ensures your online reputation is managed efficiently. These services help monitor and respond to patient feedback, manage negative reviews and ratings, and promote positive feedback. This helps establish and maintain a positive online presence, leading to increased client trust, business growth, and success. For any healthcare organization wanting to stay ahead of the competition, this service is essential for building a strong brand online!

Prioritize Online Reputation With DocResponse

Negative online reviews are damaging, but through the power of technology, providers have the power to not only prevent them but also encourage positive ones. One of the best ways to accomplish this is through DocResponse’s reputation management software. It’s one of the most cost-effective, simplest ways to dramatically improve your online reputation. After a patient visit, this solution automatically:

  • Asks patients to rate their visit in a text message
  • Encourages them to post 4 or 5-star reviews online
  • Notifies practices when they receive a negative review so they can address any issues

This valuable tool takes the legwork out of remembering to ask patients for positive reviews or sending out surveys, taking some pressure off of your busy staff. It’s like making your patients your own marketing department! Here are some examples of how we’ve helped clients obtain less negative online reviews:

negative online review chart

Interested in preventing negative reviews, all while encouraging positive ones to help skyrocket your practice’s online reputation?

Schedule a demo today!

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