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How to Respond to Patient Reviews (+ Free Examples)

February 6th, 2023 by Guest Communications

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer

It’s easy to find detailed guides on how to respond to reviews. However, most aren’t written specifically for healthcare, meaning they don’t consider HIPAA or other compliance issues. 

Responding to patient reviews can be tricky. 

According to HIPAA, hospitals and doctors aren’t allowed to share any protected health information (PHI) about reviewers—including whether they’re patients.

To offer further discouragement from violating HIPAA, anyone who knowingly obtains or shares individually identifiable health information may face a criminal penalty of $50,000 and up to one year in prison.

Knowing this, your health or wellness brand might hesitate to engage with any online review. However, responding to all negative, mixed, positive (and, yes, even fake) reviews is vitally important.

Here’s why:

  1. It improves local SEO.
    Managing and responding to customer reviews about your business is one way to improve your local ranking on the Google platform.
  2. It builds trust and credibility.
    Proactively responding to all types of patient reviews is a tangible example of why patients can trust you. It shows that you’re committed to delivering a positive patient experience for everyone who visits your business.
  3. It improves brand loyalty and patient retention.
    Responding to positive reviews strengthens the relationship between the customer and the brand, which improves trust and retention. Likewise, responding to a negative or mixed review in a helpful, sincere way is a positive step toward repairing the problem and improving your online reputation.

A proactive reputation-management strategy allows you to respond to all reviews thoughtfully and quickly.

In this post, I’m sharing helpful prompts to guide you in writing your responses to customer reviews. These templates are meant to be customized for each response. Doing so will improve your review response strategy and online reputation.

Disclaimer: These writing prompts are meant as a springboard to help you get started. Beware of violating HIPAA regulations, and always check with your attorney for advice regarding these responses or any others you post online.

But first, we’ll review best practices and how to respond with HIPAA in mind.

Your Guide to Healthcare Review Responses

Your patients—and potential patients—are researching your business online. Do you know what they’re finding out about your business practices?

If not, it’s time to start paying attention and responding to reviews. Why?

84% of people trust online reviews as much as friends and family.

Here are some of the sites where they’re searching:

HIPAA Best Practices for Review Responses

Maintaining HIPAA compliance across every consumer touchpoint (at all times) is essential for protecting sensitive patient information and your business from steep fines and potential lawsuits. Including times patients willingly share this information in their online reviews.

Always protect patient privacy and project a professional, caring voice. 

Here are our best practices for responding to patient reviews to ensure HIPAA compliance:

  • Thank the reviewer for their feedback—the good, the bad, and the ugly.
  • Avoid using protected health information (PHI), including any information that someone can use to identify a patient, including the individuals:
    • Name
    • Email address
    • Phone number
    • Birthdate
    • Appointment dates/times
    • Test results
    • Diagnoses
  • Avoid discussing any details or specifics about a patient or their treatments.
  • Avoid any language indicating the reviewer has ever been a patient at your facility.
  • Avoid any language that could indicate the patient even visited your office.
  • Use approved response prompts that address common scenarios and customize them as needed.
  • Focus on the positive and craft responses that show your dedication to improving the patient experience.
  • Provide contact information (e.g., direct emails or phone numbers) to take the conversation offline. This helps you avoid engaging with negative reviewers or provoking further public online discussion.

Best Practices for Responding to Patient & Consumer Reviews 

The top two best practices to consider when writing review responses are always:

  1. Write unique and sincere answers.
  2. Never include personal information.

Before drafting any response, consider your brand tone and voice. Take special care to ensure your reply is in line with your business. For example, responses from smaller, physician-owned medical practices will be naturally warmer and more familiar than a larger organization or hospital system.

Pitch Perfect Review Responses Are Just a Click Away

Download Your FREE Templates Now

We hope these guidelines will help you respond to online feedback in a professional, helpful, and HIPAA-compliant way that both protects your brand reputation and communicates that you care about your customers.

This post appeared on Healthcare Success and is shared with consent:

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