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When a customer has a bad experience with a product, a service or a supplier, they tell other people. Nowadays, they often tell their story on a reviews site; many businesses encourage consumers to provide reviews whether they are positive or negative. Increasingly, patient ratings and reviews are becoming an accepted part of the healthcare sector.  It’s fairly standard practice nowadays in many countries. In the UK, patients can review hospitals and clinics through services such as NHS ChoicesPatient Opinion and iWantGreatCare.

Private patients can relate their experience on the Intuition site, Private Healthcare Reviews. International patients can share their experience on Medical Tourism Reviews

But what happens when a patient has a poor private patient or medical tourism experience. If it is your clinic or hospital that they are talking about, what can you do about it? How should you react?

The two Intuition reviews sites enable patients to publish reviews and comments about their experience of private treatment in the UK or of travelling for treatment.....and in theory this means telling others about both good and bad experiences.

Our aim is that through these sites, we provide the "word of mouth" that can help patients to make the right choice of healthcare provider. Given the lack of objective assessment and the lack of tools for patients to make comparisons of different healthcare providers (particularly when they are in different countries), then “what the patients say” is a pretty good guide to good and bad healthcare providers. Patients want to hear from "people like me" before they decide on which hospital, clinic or healthcare provider to use. Choosing a doctor, operation, or hospital, is a big decision; the more opinions a patient can gather, the more secure they feel with their ultimate choice.

So, in essence, enabling patients to rate and review healthcare services is a good thing.  Patient review sites have processes in place to ensure that reviews are moderated and that fake reviews (either positive or negative) are identified and removed.

The problem arises when a patient says... “I didn’t have a great experience.”

Take that review off the site! 

When a patient writes about a bad experience of a hospital or clinic, what should the healthcare provider do?

This is what usually happens...

  • The patient writes a negative review about their patient experience at Hospital X or Clinic Y.
  • Our reviews team flags it as a negative review, and checks to see that it doesn’t contain anything defamatory or that could relate to a legal or malpractice issue such as a claim for damages resulting from poor surgery or treatment.
  • The team also confirms that it is a valid, not a fake, review.
  • The team contacts the healthcare provider to alert them to the negative review, and gives them an opportunity to post a response to the comments.
  • To which the response from the healthcare provider is usually.... “it isn’t true, he/she has made it up, he/she was a difficult customer.”
  • And finally...... “Take that review off the web site!” 

Time for a change 

  • It’s a problem that we need to fix in the healthcare sector, if we want to become more open and more credible.
  • In some cases, hospitals and clinics pay little attention to monitoring the patient experience.
  • Too few hospitals and clinics “ENCOURAGE“ reviews and feedback from patients. They think......”What if they say something negative about us?”
  • In many cases, hospitals and clinics don’t want to know when things don’t go the way that they hoped.
  • And they certainly don’t want the rest of the world to know when they have delivered less than perfect service to a customer.  

How should you deal with negative feedback?

One of the best examples of handling negative feedback is posted on Jeremy Epstein’s guest blog on Word of Mouth.org – “How to respond to negative feedback: A 3-step tutorial from a taxi company”. After a negative experience with a taxi service, Jeremy blogged about it. This is what happened:

  1. Firstly, the taxi service, goes looking for comments about their service on the web and in social media. It WANTS TO HEAR what people are saying about it. 
  2. If they pick up comments (positive OR negative), they respond to them. They don’t ignore them. 
  3. In this instance, the taxi company phoned the customer to express their dismay. And they apologised. 
  4. Then, the disgruntled customer, received a letter from the President of the Company, not only apologizing but also offering a partial refund. 
  5. And with the letter was included:  

          

a) 

The Complaint Response Process 

 

b) 

An Open Letter to the Call Services and Sales Centre Staff

 

c)

An Open Letter to All Taxi Drivers


That’s the way to deal with negative feedback. So... 

 

  • Lesson_1:_

Never ignore negative feedback. 

 

  • Lesson_2:

Go out and look for it, encourage it. If you don’t know what you are doing wrong, you will never GET IT RIGHT.

 

  • Lesson_3:

Accept the criticism. Accept that sometimes you get it wrong. Apologise (at the highest level).

 

  • Lesson_4:

Speak to the patient. Write to the patient. Above all, COMMUNICATE.

 

  • Lesson_5:

Offer some form of compensation or refund.

 

  • Lesson_6:

LEARN from where your service failed this patient, and CHANGE the way you do things, so that it doesn’t happen again.

Encourage your patients to post reviews

Encouraging patients to record their experience of your services on review sites such as Private Healthcare Reviews and Medical Tourism Reviews will bring more patients:

63% of consumers are more likely to purchase from a supplier, if it has ratings and reviews.

77% of online shoppers use reviews and ratings when purchasing.

82% of those who read reviews said that their purchasing decisions have been directly influenced by those reviews.  

You know it makes sense!

Author profile: Keith Pollard 

Keith Pollard spent ten years in marketing and operational roles in the private healthcare sector before setting up Acumen Solutions, an internet development company in the mid-1990s, specialising in the healthcare market.

Private Healthcare UK was one of several internet ventures which were created at that time.  

In 2003, Keith formed Intuition Communication as a web publishing company and embarked on a major investment in the redevelopment and expansion of Private Healthcare UK. 

The Intuition portfolio has grown impressively since then, and Intuition has become a leader in medical tourism with the development of Treatment Abroad.  Keith writes a health and medical tourism blog.

 

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