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The dilemma of responding to negative online reviews

By David N. Gans, MSHA, FACMPE
March 16, 2017
Body of Knowledge Domain(s):

The growth in digital platforms and social media for the public to grade and comment on medical practices has administrators with a delicate task of identifying the best method for responding to negative reviews.

Beyond patients’ social media posts and healthcare-specific review sites such as Healthgrades and Amino, more traditional online review sites such as Yelp are integrating enhanced survey data about medical practices from organizations such as ProPublica.

A March 14 MGMA Stat poll asked healthcare professionals to describe their organizations’ response to negative online reviews. Most organizations (44.59% of respondents) described that they responded to the review, yet were split on how to counter the negative posting. Of 14.39% who responded ‘other,’ they described the process used in their response.

Many respondents described how their organizations handle a negative online review, most commonly stating they reply directly online, by email, phone or in-person. Others described how they tailor their response to the specific circumstances, offer resolution or attempt to dilute the negative comments with positive reviews.

Only 29.18% of respondents indicated that their organization ignores negative online reviews.

The task of marketing a medical practice in the digital environment was explored in a recent MGMA Small Talk podcast episode featuring Andrea Eliscu, MGMA member, president, Medical Marketing, Inc., Orlando, Fla.

Eliscu dubs today’s digital-savvy patients, who are quick to post online reviews about their experiences, as “prosumers,” who can have an outsized influence on an organization’s word of mouth. 

The March 14, 2017 poll had 980 responses.

MGMA Stat is a national poll that addresses practice management topics, the impact of new legislation, and related topics. Participation is open to all healthcare leaders. Results of other polls and information on how to participate are available.

David N. Gans, MSHA, FACMPE, senior fellow, MGMA Industry Affairs

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