Best practices for responding to patient reviews online
- Thank patients for their feedback. Patient comments in online reviews and social posts can expose operational problems or help you train your staff. Show appreciation for all feedback—good or bad.
- Keep responses anonymous by not acknowledging that the patient is or is not your patient or revealing or confirming any personal information about the reviewer, even if they shared it in their review. When responding to what you might do to remedy a situation or to explain why you acted in a certain way, rRefer only to practice policy, not individual circumstances.
- Preserve patient privacy. In your response, never acknowledge that a reviewer is or was a patient.
- Develop prewritten response templates for your team to use in different review scenarios. Work with your legal and compliance team to develop 15 to 20 approved responses to common patient scenarios.
- Do not delete reviews. The exception is a negative review that includes profanity or slander. Otherwise, it can raise suspicion if all your reviews are positive.
- Never alter review content when you repurpose it and don’t acknowledge or repeat protected health information (PHI). If a review from a patient on a third-party platform that you do not control includes PHI, you don’t need to delete it. Do not, however, repeat or disclose additional PHI in your response, on social media, or on your website.
STEP 2: Dive Deeper
Once you begin receiving patient testimonials, you can turn them into content. Most patient reviews are not initially detailed enough for repurposing, so an effort to get more information is usually required. If you ask nothing else, ask patients to write about how they felt before receiving treatment at your practice and how they felt afterward. The goal of diving deeper is to help your patients tell engaging and emotional stories about their experiences with your practice. Think of the people who will read testimonials as shoppers trying on clothes—they want to see how your practice fits them before making a commitment.
Our advice is to start by requesting a video conference with someone who left a positive review to learn more about their story. The following questions are an excellent place to start when you meet with them:
- What treatment did you undergo?
- What is the problem you had before you had [insert treatment]?
- Describe your frustration when trying to solve that problem by other means before undergoing [insert treatment] at our practice.
- How long did you think about whether to undergo [insert treatment]?
- What stands out as different about your experience with our practice?
- What surprised you during your patient journey with us?
- Please tell me about the moment you realized [insert treatment] was working to solve your problem.
- Please describe your life now that your problem has been solved or is being solved.
- What advice do you have for anyone considering the same treatment? Should they be anxious or nervous?
STEP 3: Build content
Determine the medium through which you will share your patient testimonials and the platform you will leverage to amplify the message. The information you obtain by interviewing patients can be used to craft a case study testimonial that can be shared on your practice’s website. Remember to focus on the patient and their story rather than you and your service.
STEP 4: Splinter content
You can splinter testimonials into additional formats and diversify the channels through which you can share them. For example, you could record and edit a patient’s virtual interview into a video testimonial that can be shared on social media, sent to your email list, and edited for use in Facebook and Instagram ads. You could also invite the patient to be a guest on your podcast for a progress interview after at least 1 year elapses after treatment.
Testimonials often inspire other patients to comment on their own experiences with your practice. In this way, testimonials can be self-perpetuating. Dig deeper with those who comment, and they could become the subject of your next testimonial. Following these four steps to establish a self-perpetuating cycle of patient testimonials in your practice can help you put your best foot forward online and offline.