Healthcare News & Insights

5 ways to respond to negative online reviews

Studies show many patients go online to look for health-related information — and that includes information to help them choose doctors. What can doctors do if they they’re the target of a negative online review? 

First, some good news: While it’s commonly assumed that people most often take their opinions to the Internet when they have something nasty to say, one recent study found that people feel more compelled to post positive reviews of doctors than they do to voice negative opinions.

But that doesn’t mean that negative reviews aren’t out there — or that they’re always fair. Whether saying something good or bad, the study found, people tend to exaggerate opinions when they put them online.

Here are five steps doctors in your organization should take if they’re the target of negative online reviews:

1. If the comment is untrue or unfair, have it removed

Review websites typically have policies to prevent liability for defamation suits — that means if a user posts something that’s untrue about a doctor, the site will most often comply with requests to take the review down.

2. Don’t respond publicly

Some review sites allow doctors to post a response to a user’s complaint. But most experts recommend doctors resist the urge to do so. They’ll likely appear defensive, and it could also lead to an argument and elicit more negative statements from the patient.

3. Ask patients to review you

Unless they’re defamatory, doctors usually can’t have negative reviews removed. But they can lessen their impact by encouraging patients who have had positive experiences — the vast majority — to put their opinions online.

4. Conduct patient surveys

When people post negative reviews online, often they simply want someone to hear their opinion. So doctors can give patients the opportunity to give their opinion directly to the practice without making them public. That also allows the practice to get the specific information it needs to improve operations.

5. Monitor and learn

Finally, doctors should pay attention to comments from patients and learn from them. Also, it’s a good idea for them to pay attention to their online reputations so they know when there’s a problem.

Subscribe Today

Get the latest and greatest healthcare news and insights delivered to your inbox.


  1. Defamation Doctors is an online reputation Management Company based out of Plano, Texas. Please conytact us at 214-701-4531 for more information on our services and how we can assist you.