As a behavioral health provider you should recognize that negative reviews are as likely as death and taxes.  Unfortunately, you are in a medical specialty where patients often have unreasonable expectations and their frustrations are vented in the wee hours online.  To help navigate the wormhole of online reviews, here are 5 keys to consider when you are presented with a negative online review:

  1. Who was the reviewer?
  • Try and determine the client that left this review. This will provide a perspective on the review and some background on how to manage the response. Identifying the reviewer can help to quickly mitigate the negative review.
  1. Most negative reviews deserve an immediate response. The only negative reviews that one should not respond to are those that are highly damaging. These require much more strategic mitigation (see number 5).
  • Negative reviews in the mix of positive reviews adds credibility to the overall ratings. The public is very savvy and can recognize “stuffing of the ballot box” and consider it another form of advertising.
  • Many review sites (Google) like it when you respond to reviews. It helps your SEO.
  1. When responding to reviews consider:
  • Post your response timely. Do not wait weeks or months to respond.
    • The quicker the better. It may give you a chance to resolve the review with the reviewer.
  • Never defend or make excuses, even when you are right.
    • Online is not the best playing field for point and counter point exchanges. You will lose the popularity vote and may leave yourself open to legal issues.
  • Never blame or provide information about the reviewer.
    • As a medical provider HIPAA compliance trumps all personal rights. Just because a patient has rated you does not give you permission to rate them in return.
  • Be positive, brief, and do not reveal too much.
    • Take a trick from the politicians answering tough questions– respond to a comment without even mentioning the comment.
  • Do not use any identifiable names in your response. Search engines may record these and SEO them when someone wants to know about you.

Some response examples to negative reviews:

“Our team strives to provide the best care and customer service to our clients. As with any review or client, we encourage them to contact us directly to understand more about how we can resolve their concern.“

“We’re sorry you’ve have had this experience. We invite you to call our office to talk about the specifics of your situation. We always strive to provide the best care and highest level of service.”

“We are disappointed you had this experience. We enter the office every day with the drive and enthusiasm to see those we serve get well.”

“Myself and our team are committed to provide the highest level of service. We welcome feedback so we can grow.”

  1. Develop a policy on handling reviews. The policy should answer the following:
  • What type of reviews will we respond to and from what sites?
  • Who from our team will respond?
  • What are our agreed upon responses?
  • Who is checking our reputation?
  1. Managing highly damaging reviews. If the review is so damaging that it needs to be removed. Here are several actions to consider:
  • Contacting the client directly. I have personally negotiated a patient settlement to remove a negative review. It included a monetary payment and a legal document implementing a number of stipulations including a gag order.
  • Contacting the review site. With the right approach they may remove the review. Some sites will not. The only downside is the anger it may cause the reviewer, resulting in more reviews.
  • Hire an attorney to contact the review site and/or client directly. You do have rights, but none of them include releasing PHI.
  • Hire a PR expert to rebuild your reputation. You won’t be the first to yield to this.

Managing your reviews requires the same commitment you make to your patient’s care, your financial investments and credit card statements.  It is no longer difficult to identify in a timely and efficient way the managing of your Online Presence. TMS Psych Support has partnered with to build an Online Presence Program specifically for the Behavioral Health Professional. Visit us at to learn more.

See how the TMS Essentials Program can help you grow your TMS Service.

Some Facts About Online Reviews

  • 80% of internet users search online for health information, and 20% of these searches are about a specific provider.
  • 72% of consumers trust online reviews as much as word of mouth.
  • A one “star” rating difference can lead to a 5-9% difference in revenue.
  • 67 percent are influenced by online reviews when making a purchase.

Blog Credits:

  2. AMA recommendations in their FAQ’s –

 (Blog as PDF: Click Here)