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    Physician review websites: The good, the bad, and the technology


    Responding to negative reviews

    So what do you do about a negative rating?  If a website (such as Yelp or Google) allows for responses, you can directly respond to the review. However, that should be done with extreme caution. For example, you do not want to respond by violating HIPAA or making yourself look worse by saying something like, "I'm so sorry you had to wait, the patient before you had a placenta previa and she started bleeding after my digital exam." In fact, I recommend not responding to any review publicly and instead reaching out to the patient privately through secure communication.

    If you notice a slew of negative reviews, take the advice to heart and start to see if you can make changes in the identified "problem areas." After implementing the changes, don't be ashamed to ask patients to write online reviews. You can even print business cards with the web address of your profile and ask patients to go to the website and review their experience that day.

    If a review is completely unfounded, vindictive, or malicious, you can contact the website to ask for it to be removed. However, be careful not to disclose any protected patient information. On websites such as Angie's List, dealing with negative reviews and arbitration is part of the membership agreement. In the agreement, it explicitly states that "If the Service Provider agrees to your desired resolution or supplies a counteroffer that you find acceptable, the case is considered resolved, your review regarding the Service Provider will be removed, and you will have the opportunity to submit updated feedback about your experience."9 While this site is meant more for home services, and this policy is most appropriate for getting a refund from a gardener who killed your petunias, it does demonstrate that review websites may be ok with quid pro quo when it comes to review management.


    Brian A. Levine, MD, MS, FACOG
    Dr. Levine is Practice Director at the Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine, New York, New York.


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