Let's talk about getting negative online reviews and what it means to your business.
I mentioned HIPAA issues around responding to online reviews, here's a reference by the AMA
Dr. T 0:00
Owners of a direct care practice are more likely to experience higher job satisfaction than the insurance based practice. And it's no wonder why direct care is independent of insurance. Patients pay the doctor directly for their expertise, the doctor gets full autonomy in how they care for patients and how they get paid. They have chosen this path with a love of medicine. This is the direct care way.
Dr. T 0:24
By listening to this podcast, you may even start to believe that you too can have a successful direct care practice. Come listen with an open mind as I share my personal journey and how I pivoted from an insurance based practice to direct care right in the middle of the pandemic. And the valuable lessons along the way. This podcast may be the very thing you need to revitalize your medical practice. I'm your host, owner of a direct care podiatry practice Dr. Tea Nguyen.
Dr. T 0:53
She's a scam, I just got a negative online review. So let's talk about it. If you're going to have a business, and negative online review is inevitable. The probability of you getting one because your direct care practice is a little bit higher, for a couple of reasons. Some people just get mad about paying. And they're upset that their problem wasn't solved in one visit, or whatever their expectations were, their expectations were not met. There are some people who just want to stiff businesses by putting a nasty review, or even threatening to give a nasty review. In exchange for something else like extortion. Basically, some people do that some people use it to retaliate, maybe it wasn't a good experience. And they're just leveraging online reviews as a weapon against you.
Dr. T 1:44
Some might be legitimately telling you that your process could be improved. So that's one way to look at it. And then sometimes, maybe you are actually wrong in how you handle the situation. And as a business owner, we need to be really open about what's going on around our business that could affect our business. And in other times, we need to also be aware of when to ignore things that just doesn't serve us or the mission that we have. So when you get your first review, or your first bad one, you might be wondering what to do with this information, you might be surprised, you might even get angry, or just feel bad. And I want to tell you to not feel bad, because there are just things that are out of your control, what you can do is just deal with what you feel for a few minutes, but then collect yourself. And let's just review what's really going on.
Dr. T 2:40
When I get a negative review, I do take the time to read it. I look into what the complaint was about. I even go back into the patient's chart to see if there were things that I missed. Things that were documented or could be improved as far as communication goes. Because a lot of the distress around why people want to put in negative review has a lot to do with communication or lack of communication. So I want to know if what people are putting online is actually justified because if I could fix it, I will. But if I can't, then I need to recognize there are just some people I can't help and that's okay, when I get that negative review, I take the time to look into it. And sometimes I can muster the energy to see their point of view. And I know this isn't always the easiest thing to do because it requires you to confront your own ego and let go of what you think is the right thing.
Dr. T 3:35
But really put yourself in a position to be in their situation where their expectations clear from the get go. Did they express something that maybe you forgot, or overlooked or just dismissed as unimportant? Sometimes we do this from time to time, but at the end of the day, we are all human. So if I find that the review is not warranted or is just over exaggerated, like this one recent one I had on Yelp, go check it out if you like where this person says that I was a scam that I scammed her out of $1,000 worth of orthotics that made her worse. What do I do with that? I did respond and some people say it's better to just ignore and flooded with positive reviews, but I like to answer things to give clarity. So in my response to the person, I kept it very vague, vague enough where I wasn't revealing any patient specific information. And you might be wondering how this applies with HIPAA. HIPAA doesn't restrict physicians from responding to online comments. It just means that you as a physician have or have the duty to protect what is considered private.
Dr. T 4:42
Now if the individual leaves their name up, put details about the appointment that's on them, right. You had nothing to do with that. But you can respond as vague as possible, just so that others who read it can recognize that you are responsive. And that's usually is a good look for business, you can refer to the LinkedIn I'll put down in the show notes from the a ma that states, how physicians can deal with online reviews. And if we should even respond. So I did. And I just made a clear statement saying that we have a policy, if you're unhappy with the orthotics, we offer a 30 day modification, if that's what is needed. I'm pretty particular about who I prescribe custom orthotics to, it's not for everybody. And so this kind of helped me look into my protocols to see did I even prescribe it correctly. And it looks like I did the best that I could with what I have, I wasn't just trying to sell a thing. This patient came in for specifically custom orthotics. She had an old pair that she complained about. So I updated it by getting a new scan, and then she was unhappy with it, but didn't follow up. So I really had no feedback to know what to do with the custom orthotics that I created for her. Plus, I rely on a lab to create it for me. So some of that's just out of my control.
Dr. T 6:01
So I built in a sort of guarantee to help patients feel safe, essentially, in purchasing things from me. But unfortunately, the patient did not take advantage of that in months had gone by, and then they're out of that window. So what do you do with that information? Right? What do you do in a situation like that? Well, in order to have access to as the physician, it's an appointment, it's a payment, and this person didn't like that so much. So most people understand that businesses are eventually going to have a negative review. But it's not so important that it's the one bad review, that's going to take down your business, right. That's what we were worried most about, we work really hard to develop our brand and our reputation. All just for one person do try to shake it all down. But the one review is not going to kill your business. After all, we are in a service industry. And we can't make everybody happy, we can certainly try our best. But some people act one way to your face and a different way behind your back. Those are things we are not in control of. So going over this negative review I got on Yelp, I actually don't solicit for reviews on Yelp, I find Yelp is a very strange place for medical care, actually really disliked the entire platform. Because there's an algorithm where if the person who creates a positive review, but they don't review other businesses, they don't get shown it's it's hidden as irrelevant, for some reason, is probably a way for y'all to have people do more reviews. But anyway, I digress. So I asked myself, is this person right? Am I a scam artist, right? Obviously not. I spent a lot of time with this person trying to clarify all of their questions, it was not an easy appointment.
Dr. T 7:46
But I did my best with what I had. And they went on to say that I hurt them with these orthotics, which is kind of crazy to think about, I didn't hold this person hostage with their money, I didn't say you have to get these Oh, you'll, you'll die, right? Like there was no, this was all voluntary information. I gave the person information about the benefits of these custom orthotics, why I loved them so much, and why I trust the company, and they chose to pay for it. Never, I never do pressure sales. So it wasn't like I was doing anything conniving. And ultimately, if somebody is unsatisfied with what I have to offer, it does hurt my business because I am a one woman show. And it's a small community and people talk. So I do my very best to ensure that I number one, get the right diagnosis. Number two, give them what they're looking for, in this case was medical device. And then that's all I could do on my end.
Dr. T 8:43
What happens once they leave the door once they choose to take my recommendation or not is out of my control. time is spent resources have been spent, you know, go to a lawyer see how they feel or how they respond. If you spent time with the lawyer asking them all the questions and then later on say I'm dissatisfied with what I got. I need a refund, right? Like it doesn't work in that field of specialty it just but for some reason medicine is held to a different standard. And I find that incredibly aggravating, which is why a lot of us are burned out. But again, this is a voluntary practice. I make a recommendation you can choose to purchase it or not. I don't do pressure sales. I don't believe in pressure sales. It's up to them. So it's a crazy world out there. People are kind of strange, so be it right if a person wants to go so far to make a complaint online, just let them do their thing.
Dr. T 9:36
You cannot control that. You can even try to refund them to avoid this type of situation butwhat for time and resources again, they're spent, it's gone. You can't get it back. You're not guaranteeing a certain outcome, you are guaranteeing that you will do your best to listen to what they have to say what their concerns are and then devise a plan that you find is going to be suitable offer them medicine is a science and an art, no one thing is going to help everybody. So it requires a relationship, it requires give and take if the person is coming to me, but they don't want a resolution, sometimes I have to pass them on and refer them out. Because they're not coming to me for something I can solve. Some people come to me just to get paperwork, and it's like, not really a fun problem to solve, right. And then they get the paperwork, and it's not even what they wanted. And then it just goes on and on. So I don't, there are just some things that you need to be very clear about what you do and what you don't do.
Dr. T 10:33
People who don't want a resolution are not a good fit for me and people who don't want clarity in their medical care, not a good fit. For me, my business is anchored as a two sided relationship that is mutually beneficial. What it used to be in the insurance space practice was that you the physician would give you recommendations to your patients. And that's it. That was like way old school, right. And now we're moving into a place where the patient physician relationship needs to be two sided, cooperative, collaborative, that's the type of practice that I want to build, I'm no longer going to sit around trying to be a doormat for people, just so that they can take advantage of me or just so that they can complain to get their money back. Because that's what people will do. Those who get pissed off about your boundaries are the ones that don't benefit from from it, right. Like, if there's no benefit for them, they're gonna be pissed off. And there's going to be a lot of people who are entitled, who feel entitled to access to you. But they won't pay for that access, what you need to know that your time is valuable period, there's nothing more to it, I was looking back at what it took for me to get to where I'm at.
Dr. T 11:37
And I think your path is probably very similar. You had to do four years of undergrad, take the MCAT do your specialty or medical school education, move on to another couple years of residency fellowship? What have you right 12 years, it took me 12 years to just finish my fellowship, I hadn't even started working, it took me 12 years to get there, we committed a lot of time, we need to have boundaries, people aren't taking advantage of it. I'm not okay with that. So I did the best with the information that I was provided. If they failed to follow up, and they didn't make it an issue at other appointments or on the phone, then it wasn't really that important to them. So how can I help them in that case, you might be concerned that a negative review is out there to hurt you, or to damage your reputation or discourage others from seeing you which it's very possible that could be the case. But I also want to ask you or ask yourself, Is that really true? Does that stop everybody from coming in? It's believed that negative reviews legitimize your business because there's a lot of software's and people buying reviews or fake reviews, especially on Amazon, to increase their numbers to get more visibility for people to buy their product.
Dr. T 12:50
So to have a couple of negative reviews, it doesn't kill you. I mean, look at me, I'm not dead, I'm still actively talking and promoting my businesses. And you know, I'm still thriving, it sucks when it does happen, because sometimes it catches you by surprise, or the person that you cared for, doesn't care about you at all, they treat you like a commodity, like you're just another thing, and it doesn't feel good to have that kind of relationship. So at this moment, that is one of the negative reviews I have on Yelp. And that's an N equals one. It's a really bad study, it doesn't really define me, who I am, what I do, and how I have helped others. It's just the one thing, right? Don't hold a light to that don't keep that so close to your heart that you can't sleep at night, these things are going to happen. I do you have some other ones that scattered around the internet, but you know, it's pretty, it is pretty shitty when you put yourself out there. And these keyboard warriors, they just they just go at it.
Dr. T 13:46
And they think nothing of it, they dehumanize you, they say that you're a scam artist, or whatever they want to say and that's okay, you know, you let them be them. How they respond to the world is going to reflect on who they are. And for me, they're just showing me who they truly are. And that's a blessing. These are not my people imagine serving this type of person. And at the end of all of the treatments you've offered all the time you spent on them, they're still dissatisfied or unhappy because they didn't get their way or they wanted something for free or they wanted a refund or whatever their motives were right. What can you do with that there's not a lot you can do. So why get mad at something that you can't control? My point is you shouldn't someone will say that you can just deal with the negative online review by ignoring it and drown it out with more positive reviews right? I mentioned earlier, which is a good strategy. You can certainly do that. But I know that I will never as a business as a person. I will never satisfy 100% of people I encounter not my patients, not even my friends and family. There's always going to be somebody to piss off and it's not even intentional. It just so happens that people miscommunicate have misdirected intentions and so on, which is why it takes a partnership for Direct Care Practice to work through things together, right?
Dr. T 15:04
We're taking care of people, we are learning a lot about who they are, what their values are, we are in a unique position to really spend a lot of time and energy to take care of these people who come to us. And it's just a matter of fact that we can't serve everybody. That's really all that there is to it. Now, if you find yourself with an abundance of negative reviews, it might be time for you to have a professional intervention, and just see what the pattern is, is this a true pattern where you need to reflect on your processes and your workflow and improve it? Or is it some kind of retaliation amongst a group of people, right, we really want to be able to recognize a good review, a constructive review versus a pointless review, the important thing to remember here is that you cannot be for everyone and negative reviews are inevitable. So be upset for a hot second, and then let it go use it as a learning point to either tighten up your workflow or just simply build a thicker skin and say, well, that has happened, which means I made it, I'm finally building the business that I love.
Dr. T 16:10
And this kind of just comes with the work, it's a service industry, it's bound to happen. Sometimes a negative review is a gift from the person who self selected themselves out of your practice and out of your life, which means they won't be referring their friends who might be a lot like them. So I take that as a when we need to focus on the people who do value what we do, who have problems that we can actually solve and who will act right that they see themselves as a partner and not as a victim. That's how relationships work. And that's going to be key for a direct care practice. So these are the weeds that you just have to pluck out out of your mind so that your field of thoughts are abundant with the stuff that you actually want to grow. So we need to focus on the things that we do want to grow and let go of the stuff that isn't serving us that isn't helping us that is weighing us down or even distracting us.
Dr. T 17:00
I hope this episode gave you some insight as to how to deal with the negative online review. It's okay when it happens. And in fact, if you haven't had one yet, when you do, yes, you're It's inevitable. When you do get that negative review, celebrate it because it shows that you are doing something and that is going to make your life really meaningful. That's all I've got for today. I will catch you next week.
Dr. T 17:24
Thank you so much for being here with me. If you enjoyed this episode and want to hear more, please like, share and subscribe so more people like you can have access to another way of practicing medicine, that direct care way. Let's connect find my info in the show notes and send me your questions. That might be the topic for future episodes.
Dr. T 17:43
And lastly, if you remember nothing else, remember this be the energy you want to attract. See you next time