How to Respond to Negative Patient Reviews?

Mia Jensen | October 26, 2023 | 7 min read
How to Respond to Negative Patient Reviews? | DemandHub

“Negative reviews? Ouch!” When you’re in healthcare, a negative patient review can feel especially painful, but hey, it’s not the apocalypse!

In fact, negative reviews make your business look more legit, as 68% of people trust online reviews more if they see a mix of good and bad scores. And 92% of people suspected the reviews to be fraudulent when they didn’t see any bad scores.

Reviews matter. But how you handle them can make all the difference. It’s not just about your online reputation management. It’s about learning, growing, and creating a healthcare experience that exceeds patient expectations.

Whether it’s a rave review or a negative one, each piece of feedback is a golden opportunity to improve and refine your services.

So, let’s dive in to explore 9 actionable strategies to help you address and respond to any negative reviews that come your way. We will also touch base on why patients sometimes leave less-than-stellar reviews and how you, as a healthcare provider, can flip them into golden opportunities for growth and improvement.

Let’s roll up our sleeves and turn those critical comments into stepping stones for enhanced patient satisfaction.

Table of Contents

Why Do Negative Patient Reviews Happen?

Negative patient reviews can pop up for many reasons. But understanding them is the first step to addressing them effectively. Sometimes it’s a mismatch of expectations, genuine oversights, or mistakes made during patient care.

Other times it could be about the long wait times, lack of communication, or perceived rudeness from the staff. Each patient’s perspective is unique. What may seem trivial to one person can be of significant concern to another.

Regardless of the reason, it’s essential to approach each review with an open mind and a willingness to learn and improve. By doing so, healthcare providers can address underlying issues, enhance patient satisfaction, and foster a more positive healthcare environment.

9 Best Practices to Respond to Negative Feedback

You have opened your practice to get patient reviews. So, what’s the best way to cushion the impact of a negative one? The solution is simpler than you might think—all you have to do is respond.

Here are 9 best tips for responding to negative patient reviews:

1. Respond Promptly

Act promptly. A swift response shows you value patient feedback and are committed to resolving issues. Address the concerns raised, and apologize for any inconvenience.

Assure the patient that their concerns are being taken seriously. Quick action can help de-escalate the situation and show your commitment to patient satisfaction. The following negative review response sample is the best example of it.

Respond Promptly

2. Acknowledge the Review

Recognition is key. Acknowledge the patient’s feelings and experiences without placing blame or making excuses.

A simple acknowledgment can go a long way in showing empathy and understanding, making the patient feel heard and valued. It’s the first step in rebuilding trust and mending the patient-provider relationship.

See the review response example below. Even though the patient isn’t in their database, the business acknowledges the reviewer and asks him to contact the office directly for resolution.

Acknowledge the Review

3. Avoid Being Defensive

Stay calm and maintain a professional tone. Avoid getting defensive or confrontational, even if the review seems unfair or inaccurate.

Responding with kindness and professionalism can help maintain a positive image and prevent the situation from escalating further. Remember, the goal is resolution, not conflict.

Avoid Being Defensive

4. Say Thank You

It might seem counterintuitive to thank someone for criticizing you, but expressing gratitude for their honesty is essential. Constructive criticism is a tool for improvement, allowing you to refine your services and enhance the patient experience.

By thanking them, you convey that you value their feedback and are committed to addressing their concerns, fostering a sense of trust and openness.

Say Thank You

Responding with a one-size-fits-all reply can come off as insincere and dismissive. People can easily discern when a response lacks authenticity and is just a scripted expression of empathy.

Instead, personalize your responses, addressing the specific concerns raised by the patient. This approach will make you look like you genuinely care about your patients’ experiences and are dedicated to resolving their issues.

6. Take it Offline

Engaging in a heated conversation online can escalate the situation and harm your practice’s reputation. Instead, invite the patient to discuss their concerns privately through direct messaging or contacting your office directly.

This way, you will save yourself from public confrontations and have a more in-depth discussion of the patient’s concerns, respecting privacy and enabling a more nuanced understanding of the issues raised.

Take it Offline

7. Develop Long-Term Strategies for Prevention

Develop and implement strategies to prevent similar issues in the future. This could include staff training on patient communication and service, improving appointment scheduling, or refining treatment plans.

Regularly review and update these strategies to ensure ongoing improvement and adaptation to the changing needs of patients.

Develop Long-Term Strategies for Prevention

8. Enhance Patient Care

Use the feedback as a catalyst to improve patient care and services. Identify areas of improvement and work on enhancing the overall patient experience.

Whether improving bedside manner, reducing wait times, or offering more personalized care, every piece of feedback is an opportunity to elevate the level of care provided.

9. Implement Feedback Systems and Regular Check-ins

Implement robust feedback systems, like DemanHub, to gather patient opinions and conduct regular check-ins to monitor patient engagement and satisfaction.

Proactive engagement can help identify and address issues before they escalate into negative reviews. It also shows a commitment to continuous improvement and patient-centered care.

Frequently Asked Questions about Negative Patient Reviews

Why are negative patient reviews vital for healthcare providers?

Negative patient reviews are essential as they offer healthcare professionals insights into areas of their service that may need improvement. They act as a mirror reflecting the patient’s perspective and experience, highlighting any flaws in care, communication, or service.

Addressing these concerns can lead to enhanced patient satisfaction, improved reputation, and higher quality of care.

How can a healthcare provider effectively respond to negative feedback?

Healthcare providers can effectively respond to negative feedback by acknowledging the concerns raised, expressing empathy, and avoiding confrontation. Responding promptly and professionally is essential, offering to discuss the matter privately to understand the patient’s perspective better and find a resolution.

Can online negative reviews legally be removed?

Removing online negative reviews can be challenging. Legally, reviews can typically only be removed if they violate the platform’s guidelines, including hate speech, harassment, or false information.

Providers can request the removal of such reviews, but legitimate negative feedback is generally protected as free speech. The best approach is to respond professionally and address the concerns raised. It shows that you are committed to resolving issues and improving patient care.

How often should healthcare providers monitor online feedback?

Healthcare providers should regularly monitor online feedback to stay informed about patients’ experiences and perceptions. Ideally, providers should check for new reviews and feedback daily or at least several times a week.

Regular monitoring allows timely responses to negative feedback and enables providers to promptly address any issues, maintaining a positive online presence and reputation.

What role does staff training play in preventing negative reviews?

Staff training is key to avoiding negative reviews. It equips the team to offer top-notch care and service. By learning good communication and customer service, staff can create positive experiences for patients, reducing complaints. When staff are supportive and address concerns well, it makes patients happy and reduces negative feedback.

How do you deal with negative feedback from patients?

Dealing with negative patient feedback involves listening, understanding, and addressing their concerns. It’s essential to respond quickly, stay positive, and make any necessary improvements.

Open, constructive dialogue with the patient, aimed at resolving the concerns and improving their experience, can turn negative feedback into an opportunity for growth and enhanced patient satisfaction.

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