Protect Against Negative Online Reviews

Staff Report

Beth Thomas Hertz, in her article “Damage Control,” reported that there is a proliferation of many new online sites for reporting medical experiences and rating doctors, such as,, and  These web sites allow patients to tell the whole world via the Internet about their medical experiences.  Even if most of your reviews were positive, the negative ones can cause damage to your practice.  This article is a quick overview of a few things that you can do to improve your on-line ratings in this new age of instant information.

Many patients are using the Internet to research their healthcare and insurance companies are surveying patients to review their provider network.  Thus, decent reviews from your patients are becoming important.  Many of the negative ratings are usually due to lack of courtesy and professionalism of the office staff.  Ms. Hertz offers ways to reduce and deal with bad reviews. While some review items actually rate the physician; other survey items could refer to indirect issues as lack of parking.  You should use the feedback to determine what you are doing right, determine how you can provide the “extra” value that patients want and what areas in your practice need improvement.

Improvement Steps

Daniel O’Connell, a PhD in psychology, consults with physicians and recommends that doctors pay special attention to whether they clearly explain matters to patients, or whether patients are included in the decision making process.  If you score low on any these issues, ask yourself how you can act differently to show you care.  Ask such open ended questions as “What do you think is causing this problem?” or “Was there something special you wanted me to do today for you?” or “What concerns you most about this problem?”  At the beginning of a visit, ask the patient if they have any other concerns besides the main reason for the visit.  Then you will be able to budget your time during the visit rather than getting surprise concerns at the end of the visit when you are out of time.

Improve patient satisfaction by explaining the medications prescribed, spell the name if they wish to research it, explain why you are prescribing this medication and the dosage and any possible side effects.  Inform the patient how they can determine that the medicine is working.

Ms. Hertz also reported that patients are more satisfied if they are included in the decision-making process.  If applicable, provide a choice of treatments involving the patient and negotiate the best one.