Healthcare’s Guide to HIPAA Compliance in Review Management.

Your online reviews are frequently going to be the first thing a potential patient learns about your medical practice. Research indicates that 71% of patients look at reviews before choosing a new doctor, not to mention that reviews play a significant factor in local search rankings. But those in the medical field have to take special precautions when responding to reviews. HIPAA requirements and protecting PHI (​​protected health information) have to be at the front of your mind before you hit that submit button.

%

of patients look at reviews before choosing a new doctor

Besides reflecting a lack of concern for a patient’s privacy, HIPAA violations can come with serious repercussions. A simple mistake can result in varying fines, sometimes with hefty price tags! Getting your reviews in check will inevitably be worth your while, so we’ve put together a few guidelines to help you get started.

Before determining how to respond, it’s worth considering the value of responding to reviews and the impact negative reviews can have on a practice. It may be counterintuitive, but having a few mixed or bad reviews may not actually be a bad thing. Research has shown that medical practices with only perfect reviews make readers suspicious and that realistic ratings feel more authentic and trustworthy. Negative reviews also provide an opportunity to engage with the patient and demonstrate that you’re dedicated to resolving any issues that may arise. It’s best practice to respond to all negative reviews and to as many positive reviews as possible. Just keep in mind that all the same HIPAA regulations apply when responding to glowing reviews. In most cases, a simple “Thank you for the feedback” or “Thank you for the kind words” will suffice.

Guidelines to HIPAA Compliance.

1 | Keep your responses general

Staying within HIPAA compliance guidelines means not even acknowledging that you’ve seen the patient or that they have been to the office. Even if the patient includes all kinds of personal information in their own review, you need to remain as general as possible. Resist the impulse of responding to the details of a negative review directly, keep in mind that any response is a public exchange visible to anyone scrolling through reviews.

2 | Move the focus to policy, procedures, and goals

Shifting the focus of your response to the patient care goals and office policies allows you to demonstrate an investment in patient welfare without having to address what happened in an individual case. Instead of pointing out the fact that the reviewer was thirty minutes late to their appointment, simply reiterate your policy on missed appointments and include the number they can call to reschedule.

3 | Move the discussion offline

Ask patients to contact you directly to respond to the issue. Include a customer service number in your reply. Many situations require a more in-depth conversation that can be handled over review replies and a phone call will likely bring about a better resolution. Move the conversation to a venue that gives you the best chance of success. If things go well and you are able to resolve the situation, ask the patient to update their initial response to reflect their new feelings.

 

Keep in mind that in some states you need a patient’s permission to contact them via text, email, or phone call. It’s generally preferable to have them contact you.

4 | Develop replies in advance

Work with your team to develop a list of HIPAA compliant responses to a host of different reviews. If you feel it appropriate, have your responses reviewed by a legal advisor to assure they fall in line with HIPAA requirements. Incorporate these pre-approved reviews into your workflow and use them alongside any Reputation Management Systems you may be using.

5 | Keep your cool

It goes without saying that composure is key. Don’t be impulsive or respond too quickly. An outburst can actually harm your business more than a negative comment ever could!

As a medical professional, staying within HIPAA regulations when responding to reviews can seem like just one more thing to worry about. Managing your online reputation and responding to negative reviews is a necessary part of any business, but by following established guidelines, HIPAA compliance doesn’t need to be stressful. If reputation management and all things local search feel overwhelming, RenderSEO can help. We’ll allow you to focus on patient welfare and expanding your practice while we take care of the rest.

1 | Keep your responses general

Staying within HIPAA compliance guidelines means not even acknowledging that you’ve seen the patient or that they have been to the office. Even if the patient includes all kinds of personal information in their own review, you need to remain as general as possible. Resist the impulse of responding to the details of a negative review directly, keep in mind that any response is a public exchange visible to anyone scrolling through reviews.

2 | Move the focus to policy, procedures, and goals

Shifting the focus of your response to the patient care goals and office policies allows you to demonstrate an investment in patient welfare without having to address what happened in an individual case. Instead of pointing out the fact that the reviewer was thirty minutes late to their appointment, simply reiterate your policy on missed appointments and include the number they can call to reschedule.

3 | Move the discussion offline

Ask patients to contact you directly to respond to the issue. Include a customer service number in your reply. Many situations require a more in-depth conversation that can be handled over review replies and a phone call will likely bring about a better resolution. Move the conversation to a venue that gives you the best chance of success. If things go well and you are able to resolve the situation, ask the patient to update their initial response to reflect their new feelings.

 

Keep in mind that in some states you need a patient’s permission to contact them via text, email, or phone call. It’s generally preferable to have them contact you.

4 | Develop replies in advance

Work with your team to develop a list of HIPAA compliant responses to a host of different reviews. If you feel it appropriate, have your responses reviewed by a legal advisor to assure they fall in line with HIPAA requirements. Incorporate these pre-approved reviews into your workflow and use them alongside any Reputation Management Systems you may be using.

5 | Keep your cool

It goes without saying that composure is key. Don’t be impulsive or respond too quickly. An outburst can actually harm your business more than a negative comment ever could!

As a medical professional, staying within HIPAA regulations when responding to reviews can seem like just one more thing to worry about. Managing your online reputation and responding to negative reviews is a necessary part of any business, but by following established guidelines, HIPAA compliance doesn’t need to be stressful. If reputation management and all things local search feel overwhelming, RenderSEO can help. We’ll allow you to focus on patient welfare and expanding your practice while we take care of the rest.

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