As we mentioned in our first post on social media, your future patients and their caretakers are talking about your facility. Are you listening? Are you responding?

Many prospective and current patients post reviews about their stay and overall experience with you on medical review sites such as Healthgrades.com, WhereToFindCare.com, HealthcareReviews.com, InformedPatientInstitute.org and others. Review sites can have a powerful impact, both positive as well as negative, on the opinion patients have on your facility. Therefore, it is critical that you regularly review these sites to monitor what people are saying about you and then respond appropriately.

It is important to remember that the individuals who post reviews are usually patients who had either a glowing or (extremely) negative experience. But even if your facility only has a handful of reviews, they may be hurting (or helping) your organization. In fact, according to the results of a PricewaterhouseCoopers report released in 2012, 42% of consumers logon to review sites to look to evaluate physicians. Additionally, 41% of consumers said social media affected their choice of healthcare provider or organization.
So, if you’re looking at your facility’s reviews online and see negative reviews, what can you do? Here are a few steps we suggest you take to handle these complaints.

  • First of all, if you haven’t already “claimed” your facility’s “page” on a review site, do so now. Be sure to fill out the claim form as completely as possible, describing your facility’s benefits, services, etc.
  • When you see negative reviews, don’t ignore them and hope they “go away.” Instead, look at them as the gifts they are – opportunities to make right with someone and show your responsiveness to others who read the review.
  • As mentioned above, never forget that others – possibly hundreds or even thousands of others – are reading that review and your response (or lack of) to it. Always respond with care, concern and without a hint of anger or self-righteousness.
  • Whether the complainer is right or wrong, always apologize. And do so sincerely. None of this “We’re sorry if we offended you” rigmarole. Instead, say something more along the lines of “We’re sorry we disappointed you. We will do everything in our power to resolve it to your satisfaction.”
  • If you find that complaints also talk about customer service issues, cleanliness issues, etc., use the comments – especially if they tend to pop up again and again – as opportunities to fix these problems.
  • If you can’t get the reviewer to remove the review by rectifying their situation, ask customers you know to be happy with your facility to post positive reviews on the site. This will “push” the negative review “down” on the review page.

Has your facility ever been the target of negative reviews? What was your response? Did the negative reviews have an adverse impact on your facility, or were you able to turn the negative into a positive?

Snelling Medical’s posts on social media continue next week with our third post, this one on how to interact with your followers and drive traffic to your website. Check back next week or contact us today!

NOTE:  A full-color, downloadable PDF is available. 

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