Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Positive in a Negative Online Review

Physicians, including psychiatrists, trying to cope with negative online reviews take heart. You can turn these lemons into lemonade. How many readers really trust them anyway? I often suspect that positive reviews may have been fabricated, and I have long believed that many negative reviews from real patients result when good doctors refuse, to the benefit of the patient, to prescribe bad drugs.

A recent negative review of my practice included accurate information about the way I run my practice. In many ways I do not like any more than does the patient that I must practice this way, but the broken system in which we work today requires me, for example, to collect payment at the time of service. I am glad the readers can learn about these problems from such reviews.

If the physician can identify the patient she may discover information that the patient has not shared directly but which may help in getting the best care for the patient. For example, if the patient clearly dislikes the physician the patient may benefit from discharge so he can find a physician he likes.

Some Web sites provide the physician an opportunity to respond as I did to the review mentioned above. I took advantage of the opportunity to describe my practice policies in a neutral tone. Avoid defensive responses and criticism, even implied, of the reviewer. You will just invite a counter attack. If the reviewer levels valid criticism use the opportunity to own up to your mistakes and lay out a plan to rectify them.

Even negative communication can better no communication.


  1. Service has really gone downhill, and docs don't often care. I was mentioning to someone a while ago that its only been in the last few years that I have noticed more and more medical assistants demanding that I call my insurance company to verify my benefits.

    I took a trip to one doc's office for a woman's doc appointment. I was told by my insurance company that it was free. When I got there, I was told it would be 30 dollars. I told her my insurance company told me it was free. She said I could call them myself and verify that, but she already called and was told I had a copay. I called my insurance company, and they told me it was free. I then handed the phone to the medical assistant, and she then spent tons of time on MY cell phone talking with insurance about billing I guess. She then handed the phone back to me and said I didn't have to pay anything.

    And that kind of thing has happened all over the place. The dentist, the psychiatrist. I really think it's because so many people have cell phones now, so the medical assistants are banking on you just getting on your phone and verifying the benefits for them. And if you don't do that, they just got some extra cash for the practice. I paid one doctor 20 dollars when I wasn't supposed to a couple months ago. I still haven't seen a refund for that.

    I get why so many people complain about payment at doc's offices. The medical assistants will try to bully you into paying more than your supposed to, and they expect you to get on your own phone to verify insurance.

    Like I said, it's the cell phone culture we have developed. Its only the last few years where I have noticed front desk staff doing this. Which makes me pity all the people w/out cell phones who cannot combat medical assistants who will try to convince them to pay more than they are supposed to.

  2. My take on this, Jane, is that the inscos have pitted docs against patients, creating a dysfunctional relationship triangle. I'm not sure who's "caught in the middle," but the best way to make it functional, IMO, is for the docs to stop contracting with the inscos and just work for the patient. The inscos don't care what docs think of them, but they may response to their subscribers.