While the majority of online reviews about physician practices are positive, patients who are unhappy with their experiences aren’t shy about sharing it. Most types of healthcare providers earn an average of 4 out of 5 stars, according to a review of Yelp data from ProPublica, but doctor offices got the most critical feedback, with an average rating of 3.6, NPR reported.
In comparison, acupuncturists, chiropractors and massage therapists yielded average ratings of 4.5 to 4.6. And while it is more common for providers such as dentists and physical therapists to actively seek out customers to review them, medical doctors have been trying to suppress them for many years, said Eric Goldman, a professor at Santa Clara University School of Law and co-director of its High Tech Law Institute. Some physicians have even taken legal action against customers who posted damaging reviews, but courts have generally ruled in favor of the customer or review site.
Regardless of a doctor’s professional skills, patients who use Yelp base their ratings on how they feel they’ve been treated. Leading sources of dissatisfaction include long wait times, difficulty getting an appointment, billing errors, poor physician bedside manner or unprofessional staff.
About 1,250 of 3,000 reviews for Western Dental–which received an average rating of 1.8 stars compared to 4 for all dentists nationwide–included the words “wait” or “waiting,” NPR noted.
Compounding customers’ dissatisfaction, oftentimes, are automated responses from a provider’s social media response team that aren’t followed up with meaningful service recovery. As FiercePracticeManagement has reported previously, companies that use social media (including online reviews) most successfully not only address complaints but also watch for trends indicating problems and respond proactively.
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