Risk Management Tips December 29, 2015

Risk Management Tip – Handling Bad Reviews

Hi I’m Dr. Stu Hoffman, President of ChiroSecure- back again with another risk management tip for you –

Let me ask you a question.  Have you ever received a negative online review by a patient?  Negative reviews are now a fact of life.  No matter how hard you try to make every patient happy and provide a great outcome there will always be people that you cannot satisfy.

How you handle a negative review will determine the impact it has on you practice and the risk that you take on.  If you see a bad review don’t react.  Wait a day or two to gather your thoughts and then decide the best response.  If you are a ChiroSecure client make sure you contact us so we can help you decide on the right strategy in your response.  If you do decide to respond follow the following rules.

Number 1 Follow HIPAA.  The fact that the patient may have disclosed private information in his initial review does not give you permission to do the same in response. Given the seriousness of this concern, it is always better to err on the side of saying too little than too much. The fines associated with HIPAA or state privacy law violations may deter you from responding at all.

Number 2  Be careful responding to anonymous reviews. The anonymity of some online reviews can make it difficult — or impossible — to respond. The review websites will not disclose the reviewer’s true identity to you. If you do not know with absolute certainty who posted the negative review, then do not respond with any remarks specific to that patient. You do not want to risk responding to the wrong patient.

Number 3  Keep the response short and polite and avoid responding in anger.  There’s no reason to post a lengthy response. It will only look defensive to other patients.  Make it a policy to wait a day or two to respond rather than react to the review.

Number 4  Show a commitment to improvement.  Review websites are one of the few methods by which you can get honest feedback. Your response to negative reviews will be most effective if they demonstrate that you want to improve your practice in response to fair criticism.

Number 5  Invite the patient to contact you off-line. In your response, you can invite the patient to call you to discuss the problem and devise a solution together. It demonstrates to anyone who reads the negative review that you are willing to formulate a reasonable solution to patient concerns.

Number 6  Do not defame anyone in your response. You never know how far an exchange will go and if it escalades you could find yourself in a suit for defaming the patient on line. If you do choose to post a reply, keep this risk in mind.

And Number 7 Weigh the value of an apology.  There are times when a simple apology works well. For example, if the patient complains that your office always runs 15 minutes behind schedule, you could apologize and explain that because you try not to rush patients during examinations, sometimes patients have short wait times. However, there are times when you have to avoid an apology. For example, if the review accuses you of malpractice or other wrongdoing, an apology may not be the right approach given the possible legal liabilities at play.

Of course the best strategy to counter a negative review is to have as many positive reviews as possible.

So until next time, I’m Dr. Stu Hoffman, Like us on Facebook and I’ll look forward to bringing you another ChiroSecure Risk Management Tip.