We’ve always had strong feelings about customer reviews. Providing a single 5 star score to represent a business just doesn’t seem like a good way to evaluate and share opinions. A recent report from ProPublica and the Washington Post highlights the issue, specifically by looking at Healthcare reviews.
In particular, the report highlights a very important issue, one that restaurants don’t have to deal with, but the Healthcare industry does. If a restaurant gets a bad review, they can share all the details of that customer’s visit as they remember it. We don’t recommend getting defensive, yet many business owners still do. With Healthcare reviews, getting defensive likely means the healthcare provider is violating HIPAA privacy laws.
I had several initial reactions reading this article:
- Do people seriously look solely at reviews to pick a healthcare provider? I have rationalized that the 5 star review provides an “easy” way to rank businesses, and that some people just want a quick answer to “where should I eat tonight” or “which widget should I purchase?” The value of the purchase is not worth a deep investigation, so having a site rank things for you can be helpful. But to see a Doctor or Dentist? That seems like a demographic that requires a bit more thought
- Where is the study that shows what percentage of “detailed reviews” (those that have a review greater than 2-3 sentences) are authentic or accurate? I was reading some of the complaints that consumers posted about their Healthcare provider, and I found it hard to believe many of them.
- Why would we believe reviews written by people we don’t know? We’re skeptical of many of our friends, and yet we accept reviews from complete strangers as gospel?
- To the Healthcare providers who responded with personal information about the patient – what exactly do you think you accomplished by posting something? Even if it did not violate HIPAA (which it certainly seems to do)? We urge restaurant owners and retailers all the time to respond to all negative reviews from a customer service perspective. Don’t get defensive and don’t go on the offensive. Simply thank the customer for their feedback, apologize if it’s appropriate, offer an incentive to come back, and ask to speak with them directly if it’s truly a review that seems damaging. Certainly healthcare professionals cannot apologize online – with all the lawsuits in that industry, that would be a bad idea. But why didn’t somebody counsel these professionals to write something like this:
“Thank you for taking the time to provide us feedback on your care. We take patient health and wellness very seriously, especially when the patient has issues with their care. We strongly recommend you call our office to schedule time to speak with <Dr. name>.”
I do hope we’re getting to a point where businesses that get defensive or violate confidentiality simply lose business as a result. It would actually be better (but not advisable) to not respond at all. The Healthcare systems that have put a formal review process in place have seen a large majority of positive reviews. And the best argument in the article regarding healthcare reviews came from somebody who used to try to legislate away reviews in patient contracts. He now says,
“For doctors who get bent out of shape to get rid of negative reviews, it’s a denominator problem.”
Indeed. Just get more reviews. Studies of reviews show typically 80-90% of all reviews are positive. If you have more than that, it’s probably a sign you’re not as good as you think you are!
And bottom line – I don’t care how many reviews you have. I’m still not making my decision on a Healthcare provider from a review site!