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Negative Online Reviews: What to Do If It Happens to You

Negative reviews are a reality whether you are a doctor [or a PA!] or a restaurant. The difference is that a restaurant or store can go online and state their case, while HIPPA requirements prevent healthcare providers from disclosing information that may lessen the bite of an online gripe. Recent research suggests that many consumers read reviews, and in one study 40% of consumers formed an opinion based on reading just one to three reviews. Another study in JAMA found that positive reviews influenced physician selection and negative reviews led to consumers avoiding certain doctors.

A recent article posted on Dermatology News interviewed several doctors who found themselves on the receiving end of a negative review and offers some lessons learned. Certain reviews, such as ones that discuss the administration of a practice or a bedside manner, can be constructive and viewed as a lens into how the practice functions. Others that question medical decisions or specifically complain about treatment outcomes might lead a practitioner to consider using an online reputation consultant. Companies such as eMerit work to dilute negative reviews by using tactics such as soliciting a greater number of reviews from patients. Sometimes the site that hosts the reviews may be amenable to simply removing offensive posts. Rating sites have “terms of use,” and certain posts may actually violate those terms. Other sites have “strike policies,” where a reviewee can request that one or two negative reviews be removed. Finally, the personal touch, i.e. contacting an angry patient can do the trick. The article notes that the best move to take often depends on the post, the patient, and the circumstance.

A final consideration are the legal ramifications of having a practice that garners a negative review. A recently presented study noted a suggested link between online ratings and legal risk for physicians at a national medical insurance conference. After evaluating claims data and online physician reviews from top rating sites, findings showed the bottom 10% of surgeons studied (those with the worst online reviews) had 150% as many claims as the average for all surgeons. Similar results were found for other specialties.

At the very least, online reviews can be used to make improvements and as a result, lower provider liability.


Byline: Martha L. Sikes, MS, RPh, PA-C

Posted: August 30, 2016

Source: Dermatology News
Adapted from the original article.

[Image: Pixabay / Geralt]

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