5 Tips for Bad Patient Reviews

Published: June 24, 2022 | Last updated: June 24, 2022

The first thing to do if your medical or dental practice or clinic receives a negative review is to take a deep breath and don’t panic; negative reviews are inevitable, no matter how well-run your office is and no matter how hard you try to satisfy your patients.

Tip 1: Do Not Simply Ignore Negative Reviews

Like an ongoing water leak, negative reviews may not cause problems overnight, but over time, they can wear away at your practice’s or clinic’s image and reputation and cause deep and lasting damage. By some estimates, a single negative review can have as much impact on your practice or clinic as 40 positive experiences.

Therefore, it’s important to not simply leave negative reviews alone, but to take action and respond to them in a timely, appropriate and professional manner. According to Google/IPSOS consumer research, businesses that respond to online reviews are seen as 1.7 times more trustworthy than businesses that don’t.

Negative reviews that have no response can also work against you in terms of search-engine results, third-party links and online discussions. Even if a person doesn’t specifically set out to pore through reviews, search-engine results and third-party links have the potential to show them to people who weren’t originally seeking them (which is why how you respond to them is just as important as responding in the first place).

Tip 2: Take Action

Of course, only talking about incidents without actually resolving problems or addressing real issues that have been raised is simply superficial. Very often, what will actually make a patient feel better is if they see that genuine action is being taken to address what they brought up in their negative review:

Not only will this make a patient feel better, but you’ll likely be able to rest easier knowing that, in the future, fewer patients will have the same complaint

Tip 3: Keep Responses Brief

In general, it’s not a bad idea to make any back-and-forth conversations private as soon as possible; an initial response to a negative review can make you look good, but each further reply or answer to a query brings diminishing returns (in fact, it’s generally good advice to keep the number of replies to a minimum). By offering a personal email or phone number immediately, you make yourself look better in that you have no qualms about providing personalized service right away.

In this example, a xxx practice simply provides a phone number for a direct conversation. While not providing an apology or addressing the patient’s complaint, the offer to immediately engage privately by phone (and not email) dangles a carrot to the patient and is good for public relations:

For this negative review, the responding service provider doesn’t address the reviewer personally, but he does invite him to reach out privately to discuss the issues the reviewer had. However, the provider doesn’t indicate which channels to use or leave contact information, both of which would be helpful.

Tip 4: Prioritize Staff Training in Customer Interactions.

As stated in the beginning of this section, many patients’ complaints stem from factors that may be out of your control, such as office email correspondence, waiting times and insurance issues. In fact, if you look up negative medical and dental reviews on Google and filter by search terms, the top five words that come up are “staff,” “wait,” “rude,” “billing” and “insurance.” In many cases, a lot of these factors are influenced by — or even are directly in the hands of — your staff.

Hence, one of the best way to counter these complaints is to hire qualified staff members and train them well — make sure that office managers and receptionists handle phone calls, emails, social media messages, chats and in-person visits with patience, kindness and clarity. In informal surveys, approximately 40 percent of the best-reviewed practices and clinics had formal staff training programs on etiquette and customer service.

Make sure your staff are on the same page as you regarding your practice’s or clinic’s policies, approaches and goals. This includes aspects of branding, messaging and public relations. This should have the effect of boosting your patients’ satisfaction.

Tip 5: Maintain a Consistent Name, Address, & Phone Number

In Internet terms, NAP stands for “Name, Address, Phone Number.” Although it may sound elementary, making sure your NAP is consistent across the web is key for reviews, as some search engines may discount or demote reviews attached to neglected or obsolete contact information.

When a potential patient sees the same NAP consistently in search result after search result or directory listing after directory listing, they are more likely to trust your practice or clinic and to contact you directly.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) department of the U.S. Government’s Health and Human Services (HHS) agency also has a registry of NAP information — which it calls National Provider Identifier (NPI) data — that’s used in many places, including on many of the commercial websites listed in this document.

In fact, a number of these websites explicitly state that service providers who do not have NPI records will not be listed on their sites. Make sure this information matches your NAP data that’s found elsewhere. You can fill out your NPI application here: https://nppes.cms.hhs.gov/#/


Setting up a Facebook business page dramatically increases the number of eyes on your business. If you’ve set one up and would like to include the ratings from there on your Proven Expert profile, follow these steps:

  1. Login to your Proven Expert account. Scroll down to the section marked “Reviews from other sources“ and click on the “Add source“ button
  2. Paste your Facebook business URL into the “Add and manage reviews from other sources” pop-up and hit the Add button.
  3. Refresh your ProvenExpert profile to update your rating


Want to learn 8 more tips? Get the Free eBook here and discover all 14 tips to fix your bad patient reviews today.

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ProvenExpert is the online platform for qualified customer feedback and review aggregation. A tool that enables business owners and service providers of all sizes to actively seek customer reviews with industry-specific survey templates, bundle existing customer reviews in one location and present the overall score in a way that makes it more effective. Already more than 270,000 entrepreneurs and service providers of all sizes benefit from ProvenExpert.