Dealing with negative Yelp reviews is something every business dreads. While many businesses can’t stand dealing with the likes of Yelp and Google when it comes to reviews, I generally think that it has helped improve customer service across the board. The unfortunate downside is that now more than ever, businesses live and die by their reviews. I don’t have a bone to pick with sites like Yelp or Google per se. My issue is that they don’t give any consideration to the disadvantage that the law puts businesses in the healthcare industry in.
HIPAA, the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act, prevents us from disclosing any information that can lead to the identification of a patient without their express consent. What does that all mean? That means that when a person posts a negative review, there is no way for us to publicly respond without violating their privacy and putting us in some kind of legal limbo.
Technically we could respond to the review if we prefaced every reply with legalese to the effect of, “by responding to this review we are neither confirming or denying your status as a patient of record at . . . ” Are you kidding me? Lucky for us we’ve only had 2 bad reviews in our lifetime. I won’t go into detail on those reviews but I will say that one was completely made up and the other gave a gross misrepresentation of what really happened (and she acknowledged that she wasn’t even a patient here).
What’s amazing, is that in both cases while we were stressing about how to respond, some of our patients who saw the negative review took it upon themselves to respond on our behalf. Those responses and quick defense by our patients mean the world to me. Not because it makes me feel better, but because it makes my team feel better. My team works so hard everyday to give our patients the best treatment and bad/false reviews are so demoralizing. To get that public acknowledgement from patients does more to boost their morale than anything I could ever say.
So to those who have defended us and those that have given us positive reviews, from the bottom of my heart Thank You. Thank You. Thank You.