How to Respond to Negative Reviews Without Breaking HIPAA Rules

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Responding to reviews in the medical verticals can be tricky. This is especially true if the information in the review reflects negatively on the practice. Of course, the first thing you want to do is tell the individual that their side of the story is wrong! However, I beg you to pump the breaks and go for a walk before doing so. If you’re not careful in your response, you may be violating HIPAA’s rules and regulations.

Here is a strategy for responding to a negative review without violating HIPAA rules and regulations.

The Facts

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is a governing set of laws for medical professionals that helps to protect the rights of the patients. However, it’s not always clear on how doctors and medical practices are supposed to protect their reputation when it is being criticized or even attacked online.

We understand that 84% of individuals place the same trust in online reviews as if they are coming from a close friend or family member. So why wouldn’t protect your image at all costs?!

The issue with responding to a review is that, according to HIPAA, you’re not allowed to directly claim that the reviewer is a patient or not. If a practice is to break HIPAA rules, they can face sanctions from professional boards, receive fines or even be imprisoned. So what is your practice to do?

The Steps

By following these steps, you’ll be sure to steer clear of any trouble with HIPAA when responding to your reviews:
Negative Yelp Reviews

  • Thank the reviewer for their feedback.
    Ex: “Dear Jill, Thank you so much for your feedback”
  • You’ll want to address the reviewer’s concerns without claiming that they are/are not a patient.
    Ex: “Here at Neuro Plastic Surgery, we strive to provide our patients with the utmost comfort and care.”
  • Take the conversation offline. By asking for the reviewer to call you directly, you not only show that you’re trying to rectify the situation, but you’re taking control of the conversation and respecting the privacy of the patient.
    Ex: “I’d like to understand and address your concern directly. Would you please give our office a call and ask for Dr. Neuro (555) 876-5309?”

If you have any questions on how your practice can respond to reviews and stay compliant with HIPAA, call us at 435.575.7470.

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