Best Practices for Responding to Patient Reviews

Check out this blog post to learn best practices for responding to patient reviews, efficiently and effectively.

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Responding to Patient Reviews

Reviews are a touchy subject because they can impact a PT practice's efficiency and future business. When prospective patients see these reviews online, it can skew their opinions, good and bad. If you don't strike the right tone of patient engagement or address the issue head-on, it can leave people wondering about the practice as a whole.

Practice owners who develop a response strategy are more likely to enhance positive and reduce negative outcomes due to patient reviews. 

In this article, you'll learn the strategy needed to master your patient responses, how to win over both the good and bad reviews, and how to take action to make your practice more efficient.

Respond to Every Review

You might be thinking, "Why do I need to respond to every review?" For starters, it's the right thing to do. Patients aren't incentivized to leave a review for your practice, so it's courteous to spend a few minutes responding.Another reason you should respond to all reviews is to show the community you're an active business owner. People want engaging PTs. Patients, without a doubt, appreciate when their feedback is heard, good or bad. Ironically enough, sending a thank you back to a 5-star review or even a negative review makes for an excellent first impression. And while it might seem easy to dismiss the presence of online feedback, prospective patients will more than likely see your reviews on every platform. In 2017, a study revealed more than 77% of patients conduct online research before booking an appointment.

Keep Communications Professional

While this might sound like a no-brainer, practice owners need to approach reviews with a strategy. Best practices include:

  • (Almost) Never publicly admitting fault - Stay away from admitting fault without a lawyer's counsel, as it can dig PTs into legal trouble. The only exception is if the problem is trivial, like not having enough parking spaces. In these situations, it can benefit practice owners to admit fault (if there's genuinely an issue) and publicly reassure the reviewer the problem is being fixed.
  • Taking the chatter off the forum - Many negative reviews can spark public discussions about the issue. It's best to respond and take the conversation to a phone call, direct message, or in-person meeting.
  • Acknowledging the issue - Negative feedback can be skewed by a lack of knowledge about physical therapy, unrealistic expectations, and many other factors. However, patient feedback is precious, and most issues are preventable through education and other means. Acknowledge your patients and honestly work towards fixing the problem. The reviews will resolve themselves.

Use the Proper Writing Techniques

The face-to-face professionalism you give to patients should extend to your review platforms. Start with a well-constructed message, determine the most effective words to use, and fine-tune your writing by searching for spelling and grammatical errors. Read your message out loud and ensure it flows in a conversational tone. If you stumble over a sentence while reading, the chances are your audience will do the same. Consider how your reply will come across to the reviewer. What tone is being used? How will they perceive your message? When PTs take the time to address each of these areas before responding to reviews, they'll drastically improve patient communications.

Dig Into the Problem

Like many things in life, the surface-level issues expressed in physical therapy reviews don't always illustrate the core problem. There are often gems of information found mining through the data. Reaching out to patients is one of the best ways to improve operations, retain business, and book new appointments. In fact, following up directly on patient reviews can tell you:

  • Where there's room for improvement in your daily operations.
  • If there's a PT who needs additional training.
  • Where patients' expectations are and if they're being met.

Feedback from patients can help practice owners pinpoint areas where they excel and others with room for improvement.

Provide a Solution

When possible, you should resolve the issues brought up during patient reviews and ensure patients know you're acting on their recommendations. But let's face it, you can't solve every problem. However, you can communicate to patients that you're diligently working on a fix. Communicating your plan or asking relevant questions can reassure and remind patients you care about their problem—even if you can't fix it immediately. And for those problems where there's truly no solution, a simple "Thank you for bringing this to our attention" goes a long way.

Follow Up With The Staff

Checking in with staff members involved in patient feedback is perhaps the most crucial stage of the process—especially when the reviewer is under the impression something will change. Most reviews are harmless and shed light on minor problems. For example, if the receptionist lets the phone ring off the hook and a prospective patient complains, that's absolutely something worth mentioning. Coaching sessions with staff members should be done in private. It's even more important to focus on the positive reviews and reinforce good behaviors. If someone leaves a review about the hospitality of the receptionist, you should congratulate them—especially if you're in front of others. People enjoy being praised and public and coached in private. Patient feedback should help the busiest of PTs mold and shape their practice into a place patients receive top-notch physical therapy without sacrificing accessibility and hospitality.

The Bottom Line

Responding to patient reviews requires tact, professionalism and consistency. If possible, practice owners (or whoever manages the reviews) need to respond to every review—even the good ones. These responses should spark a deeper conversation outside of the public eye, where the patient's issue is acknowledged and resolved. Even if you can't fix the problem right away, a simple "Thank you for bringing this to our attention" can reassure a patient. If there are issues brought to light by patient reviews, try to ask questions and better understand. Then, you can follow up with the staff involved to fix the problem for future patients. The truth is that responding to patient reviews takes time. And for most practice owners, time is a luxury. That's why MWTherapy has created an all-in-one software solution to simplify billing, EMR, telehealth, communications, and much more—even for the busiest practice owner. Try a free demo and find out how MWTherapy can streamline your operations.

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