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Dealing With Anonymous Patient Reviews As A Physician

Reputation Management for DoctorsThe internet is a double edged sword to the Plastic Surgeon.

Patients from near and far can read about and research our skill and services but at the same time a handful of malicious people can significantly tarnish a great reputation which we have strived to achieve and maintain.

As a surgeon and as a human I have always strived to maintain the highest ethical and moral pathway. Most of us went into medicine to help people. What we do as cosmetic surgeons may not save lives but it does save quality of life and that is evident in our patients' smiles and behavior after successful cosmetic surgery. As doctors we strive to achieve and maintain a pristine reputation but as in anything else in life, it is impossible to please all the people all the time.

The internet has given a voice to everyone but it seems like angry, bitter, malicious people take advantage of this soap box and platform much more often than normal happy folks. You can see this on comments on YouTube or blogs or chat rooms of all kinds - not just medical or plastic surgery related.

But in our field, we depend on our reputation and while you may have thousands of happy patients, a small handful of unhappy ones can affect your reputation. Personally I have seen that the vast majority of my negative online anonymous patient reviews or ratings are from people who I have either never seen in my office or have seen but refused to operate on as patients. I recently had a "1 star negative review" on YELP from a person who has never even come to my office nor met me but decided that she did not want to pay $100 for an hour of my time for a consult and felt obligated to give me a negative rating for not offering free consults! We have all had such occurrences. But how do you deal with it?

My method has always been dealing straight forward with any and all comments.  If it is out there then it begs clarification and a reply from my staff or office managers or even myself.  There has to be accountability.  In the restaurant industry, restaurants can actually review and rate their patrons, not just vice versa! As physicians, we have to respect patient confidentiality and HIPAA but that does not mean we must be silent and let any anonymous person's comments go without a reply or clarification especially when most of us work so hard to do the right thing and practice with skill, ethics and integrity.

Resources for physicians:

Reader Comments (6)

Excellent post Dr. Naderi and exactly on point. I, like many other physicians I know, was the target of an unhappy and ridiculously demanding patient that decided to take to the internet to smear my reputation. She posted the most horrific and untrue comments and it was actually effecting both my business and my staffs morale. It was really upsetting. However, I was able to get this under control. I would recommend watching the free webinar on this topic (it's under Free Deals at the top of the page.) which really gave me a lot of useful info and help. I also use the Frontdesk app that is linked to in the resources at the bottom of this post and am really excited to finally have a tool that protects against this and actually works.

I appreciate Dr. Naderi bringing this up since it's a topic that every physician faces.

05.30 | Unregistered CommenterDermgal

@Dermgal, Hello. I'm interested in what you learned from the webinar and what the Frontdesk program actually provides. Could you provide some more info about your results/experiences?

Hi Former,
Honestly, the webinar is free so you should probably just take the time to watch it since it's beyond the scope of a comment - or my technical chops - to try and relate even the highlights. Here's the link:

For the Frontdesk App: It's a system that captures client testimonials at your front desk when they're checking out and posts those REAL reviews on different review sites as well as your own site and the patients Facebook page (with their permission). It has been incredibly effective and I'm very thankful for it since it finally puts us on an even playing field with the anonymous people who are just trying to be destructive. It's also fantastically cheap and allowed me to drop the SEO company that I had been employing to try and do something similar, saving me about $1500 a month of the top. I hope that helps.

05.31 | Unregistered CommenterDermgal

"...angry, bitter, malicious people take advantage of this soap box and platform much more often than normal happy folks."

This is exactly correct of course and easy enough to explain if you look at motivation. Happy patients are not motivated enough to go home and start posting how great you are. It's the unhappy ones that have this motivation and I don't think there's a solution that's easy. It's something that none of us can ignore.

06.1 | Unregistered CommenterTiggs PA

Well said Dr. Naderi! I think these physician rating websites should obligate consumers to identify themselves publicly to be fair. I have received a bad feedback months ago. I tried to contact the website, but I haven't heard back from them. I talked to my lawyer about this and she told me that suing the site is ridiculous. I have nothing to fight for. Now this one bad comment is here in the internet to stay! Any suggestions on what I can do? Should I listen to my lawyer?

07.2 | Unregistered Commenterstereo45

Great article. I'd love your comments about these case studies how doctors and hospitals embrace physician-ratings sites:

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