Prior to my initial call with a new client, I read the Yelp reviews for their organization as well as a key competitor. It didn’t take long to gain insight into what their patients value, the behaviors and services that add value and the potential shortfalls of the organization. Let’s start with the five factors that their patients (female, commercial patients) value.

1. Convenience: Patients value the convenience and ease of using their portal. It may come as no surprise to most of us in the industry now that patients like being able to see their test results and upcoming appointments and having the ability to reorder medications. However, one patient proclaimed the portal could do anything they wanted. It left me wondering what else the system does and how can it be used to add more value.

2. Coordinated Care: Patients value clear and consistent communication across the care team. They expect providers to be prepared for their visit and for the rest of the care team to be on the same page. Being prepared and knowing the next steps reportedly makes patients feel like they are important and that the care team is committed to their outcome.

3. Positive Attitude: Patients value providers who are optimistic but realistic about their odds even if the odds are stacked against them. In this case, it seems the HOW information is communicated is as important as the WHAT information is communicated. Behaviors that demonstrate empathy such as eye contact and genuine communication make the patient feel cared for and help establish a trusting relationship.

4. Service: Patients value the “focused factory” where they can get the tests and support they need under one roof. The focused factory makes for the best use of their time especially when everyone including the billing staff are experts in the specialty and can provide a seamless customer experience.

5. Time: Patients value the total experience which includes the amenities outside the building and services beyond those provided by the care team. Patients commented on the location, ease of parking and other services in the area that help them make the best use of their time.

Some of the reviews were good and others…well let’s just say some were not so good. As I read the reviews it was easy to gleam how the organization was falling short because many of the authors took the time to communicate their specific issues. Someone from the organization responded to a few of the negative reviews in an attempt to clarify the facts. One response in particular only aggravated the patient more and exposed the organization to a potential HIPAA violation.

Criticism is never easy to hear and it is hard not to be defensive especially if the facts aren’t quite right. However, rather than arguing about the facts in a public forum there are steps you can take to turn negative reviews into gold.

1. Work with the review site to remove negative comments that have incorrect stats or other facts.

2. Acknowledge all comments not just negative ones with a sincere response expressing your gratitude or apology. Acknowledgement builds relationships.

3. Use the reviews to identify ways to improve your service and enhance the patient experience to build an even better business.


About the Author: Shannon Smith is a healthcare strategist with over fifteen years of experience helping companies achieve greater success. She has successfully led the transformation of ASCs and hospitals, helped technology and device companies with product and customer development and advised other professional firms on transactions.