Going in-network with insurance carriers is an essential part of running a successful business. For one, it allows you to get listed on providers' lists, which gives patients access to your care and gives you more billable patients. In this post, we'll explain why you...
According to a recent patient survey, 72.9% of patients said they most turn to Google for reviews of healthcare providers. Once you have improved or built your Google business profile, you can maintain an active presence and introduce your business to new patients by responding to reviews.
Responding to patient reviews on Google as a healthcare organization can be challenging, as you must consider the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and other compliance issues. In short, HIPAA prevents a “covered entity” (such as a behavioral health solution) from disclosing protected health information (PHI) without a patient’s consent.
Remember that simple steps like regular compliance training can help ensure HIPAA compliance and reduce financial and legal risks.
In this article, we discuss why it is vital to respond to Google reviews and how to respond to them without violating HIPAA.
Why is it Important to Respond to Patient Reviews?
Here are four reasons why it is essential to respond to patient reviews on Google:
1. Builds Trust and Credibility
Being proactive and timeously responding to all types of patient reviews on your Google business profile is a tangible example of why past, current, new, and potential patients can trust you. It provides evidence that you are committed to delivering a positive patient experience for everyone.
2. Improves Local SEO
Responding to reviews can improve a provider’s search engine rankings by increasing their online presence and encouraging more reviews. Responding also ups a clinic’s website in search engine rankings by showing the staff is a trusted and relevant resource for local healthcare services.
3. Enables Operational Improvements
Patient experience is widely considered one of the pillars of quality in healthcare, along with patient outcomes and safety. Patient suggestions and feedback can be used as a balance measure to assess service performance against patient expectations. Organizations can use all types of reviews as an opportunity to review operations and improve care.
4. Improves Brand Loyalty and Patient Retention
Responding to positive patient reviews strengthens the relationship between the organization and the patient, resulting in improved retention and trust. Responding to negative or mixed patient reviews in a helpful and empathetic way is a step to rectifying the problem and enhancing or repairing your online reputation.
How to Manage Your Responses to Google Reviews
Here are some simple guidelines when responding to Google reviews:
- Get straight to the point. Keep your response brief and to the point, especially when replying to negative or mixed reviews. Longer responses may come across as defensive, so do not try to over-explain.
- Respond swiftly. Your response time directly correlates with how you value their feedback. Quick responses show you care about their experiences and opinions.
- When you can, respond publicly. Patients and potential patients will be able to see your responses, so positive and professional responses can help your practice. Responding also shows patients that you notice and acknowledge their concerns and feedback.
- Be calm and considerate. Regarding negative and mixed reviews, it is best to remain calm and consider your response. You also need to keep in mind patient privacy and confidentiality.
How to Respond to Patient Google Reviews While Staying HIPAA-Compliant
While HIPAA may add many barriers to replying to patient reviews, it is possible to demonstrate that you are listening and valuing patient feedback. Here are some tips and tricks for responding to patient reviews while staying HIPAA-compliant:
1. Respond with General Process Information
When responding to a reviewer, never acknowledge them as a current or previous patient. You can create standard responses that address the review and provide an alternative perspective to the mentioned situation.
Patient review: “I arrived for my appointment at my scheduled time but spent an extra 20 minutes filling out forms. I, therefore, missed my original appointment time and had to be squeezed in after the next patient.”
HIPAA-compliant response: “Thank you for your feedback. We try to keep convenience forefront. Our policy is to ensure all necessary paperwork is completed before a patient’s first visit so that their care is coordinated.”
2. Highlight the Positive
The response you post must demonstrate a commitment to improving patient experience. For example, you can mention that you are using online patient feedback to improve practices. This positive approach may resolve the problem and turn a negative impression into a positive one.
3. Move the Conversation Offline
If a previous patient has posted a review, you can contact them directly or invite them to call your patient relations office to discuss their concerns. You can also opt to contact the patient via email.
Always ensure you have appropriately signed electronic communication consent forms before sending an email. During the private conversation, you can address the negative or mixed reviews and ask how to help rectify the situation.
Patient review: “The nursing staff was rude and dismissed any of my concerns during my visit. I felt my post-treatment care questions were an inconvenience. I left the office upset and confused.”
HIPAA-compliant response: “We sincerely apologize for your recent experience. Please call us at [relevant department phone number] so that we can ensure a better experience next time. Thank you for your review.”
It is important to note that even if a patient publicly provides personal medical information in their review, you, as a healthcare provider, are still expected to maintain HIPAA regulations.
4. Do Not Remove or Ask Patients to Remove Negative Reviews
Requesting patients to remove negative comments or reviews could further push away an already unhappy patient. This may also motivate a patient to post additional negative comments or reviews on your Google business profile.
Keeping reviews, even the negative ones, can also help you and your practice in the long term. For instance, some healthcare CRM platforms have tools to help you collect and analyze patient feedback. This allows you to spot any trends that could be improved and ensure your patients are receiving the best care.
Managing and responding to Google patient reviews is vital in a customer-driven world where online reviews increasingly impact healthcare organizations. Prospective patients rely on online feedback forms to choose a provider they feel meets their needs.
Patients not only rely on the reviews themselves, but they also form an opinion of the organization based on how providers respond to comments and ratings.
If you need help implementing marketing tools or understanding how they can benefit your business, Cora BHS offers free consultations. We do a deep dive into your organization’s needs and create a personalized solution to transform your organization.