Today’s Washington Post has a story about a lawsuit by a dentist against one of its patients.  The dentist had the patient to sign a “do-not-talk” contract prior to treating the patient’s aching tooth, but the patient nonetheless posted a negative review on two sites when faced with an unexpected $4,000 bill.

Attempting to control online reviews by contracts that squelch patient speech is an approach that is bound to backfire; patients will wonder why you feel the need to restrict their honest views and what kind of negative reactions other patients have had.

Moreover, as the article pointed out:

  • online reviews are only one tool patients can use to choose a doctor — and only a small percentage use them
  • doctors have many other lines of defense when bad reviews are posted — including the courts if a review is defamatory
  • the vast majority of reviews are positive!

One website, RateMDs.com, has even started a “wall of shame” where patients can report doctors who attempt to prevent reviews by pre-emptive contract. Not the kind of publicity any practice wants!

Don’t let paranoia about negative reviews lead you to make this kind of mistake.  Reputable physicians can use reviews to their advantage — not just through the benefit of positive reviews, but through the opportunity to learn about (and address) customer service problems in the office that may be invisible to providers.

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