How to Respond to Negative Online Healthcare Reviews

Clarissa DeCarlo

Healthcare organizations need patient feedback to improve all aspects of their operations. Increasingly, that feedback is happening through ratings/reviews made on public forums such as Google, your website, and social media. According to Reputation research, 86% of patients say they read online reviews, and 60% read at least five reviews when researching providers. But not all of those reviews of your organization are going to be positive. No matter how committed you are to excellence, someone is going to criticize your organization in a public review. How should you handle those reviews? Let’s take a closer look in this post. The headline: don’t ignore negative reviews. Respond to them (but very carefully, as we’ll discuss below). And learn from them. After all, negative feedback can be the most important to help you improve.

Why Online Reviews Matter

Ratings/reviews fuel the growth of your healthcare organization. According to a Reputation survey of consumers, online feedback is consistently among the top three factors influencing a person’s choice of a physician or hospital, along with in-network insurance coverage and proximity. According to the 2023 Healthcare Reputation Report:

Reviews also help you improve, and this includes the negative ones. This is especially important at a time when the mentality of the industry is changing from patient volume to patient value. Amid the rise of value-based care, providers need to think about how they can attract and keep high-value patients. Managing feedback is the key. Leaders are engaging with customers across the customer journey, and that starts with new patient acquisition and continues through to return of loyal patients. Doing this achieves benefits ranging from improving retention rates to driving referrals.

How to Respond to Negative Healthcare Reviews

No one is perfect. And sometimes patients will let you know about it when your organization falls short. And there are times when a patient leaves a flaming review that might seem “unfair.” Perhaps the patient is upset about something that is beyond your control. Perhaps they are reacting to inaccurate assumptions, or they are making what seems to you unreasonable expectations. Whatever the reason, a patient who takes the time to leave a negative review is likely reacting to something very stressful and possibly traumatic if they’re dealing with a difficult healthcare experience. It’s always good to remember this reality: when patients leave you feedback, they’re providing you with insight into how they perceive their experience and how that experience makes them feel. All feedback is valuable in that regard. So, how to respond when negative feedback happens? Here are some tips:

Bottom line: responding to negative reviews properly means being ready for them. Being empathetic and also careful in how you reply to protect patient privacy. And following up to address the issue and learn. Reputation can help you. To learn more about our healthcare expertise including client case studies, visit our website

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