How Physicians Can Deal With & Avoid Negative Online Reviews

In a world filled with online review sites for every type of profession, a positive online reputation is vital to the livelihood of any organization. But a few negative reviews can seriously harm a doctor’s practice, even if the doctor feels as though they have done nothing wrong. Of course, the best thing to do would be to avoid bad reviews altogether; however, there are several strategies for dealing with this type of adverse feedback when it does occur.

A study from UC Davis found that denying a patient’s request is a surefire way to get a negative review. Unfortunately, due to several factors, including patient health and safety, doctors must sometimes deny a patient’s request. So how can healthcare providers walk the fine line between earning high marks and protecting each patient’s wellbeing? Here are a few tips to guide you through such a predicament:

Actively Listen

Even if you know that you must ultimately deny a patient’s request, that person may be more understanding if they feel they have been heard. Pay close attention to what your patient says—you may even discover clues through conversation that can circumvent a total denial of their wishes.

Consider Carefully

While some things patients want may be ineffective or even harmful, others may be genuinely beneficial. Keep in mind that most patients want to take an active role in their healthcare, so carefully consider why the patient may be asking for a particular course of treatment—their request could be based on a friend’s success story, an ad seen on television, or self-conducted cursory research. While you must ultimately make the decision that’s right for your patient, you should never assume that the patient knows nothing about their condition or what they need.

Keep Learning

No matter the sector or industry, no business wants to receive a negative review. However, negative feedback can be particularly frustrating for doctors, especially when their goal is to provide optimum care for their patients. When confronted with a bad review take a moment to see the situation from the patient’s perspective—this can help foster communication with similar patients in the future and may lead to more favorable outcomes.

Learning Bird

Furthermore, a response acknowledging that you have seen a particular review can impart to the patient and other viewers that you appreciate honest feedback and are willing to learn from the experience. And the sooner you respond, the better.

Practice Makes Perfect

It’s called a medical “practice” for a reason and as your skills and knowledge continue to evolve, sharpening your communication skills along the way can be vital to your success. Great communicative abilities can help a patient understand the reasoning behind a request being denied and will lead to more understanding and happier patients.

Review sites aren’t going anywhere, and neither are patient requests. Applying these tips in your everyday practice will improve the doctor-patient relationship, resulting in happier and healthier patients, all while improving your online reputation.


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