Bad reviews can happen to good doctors. It’s almost inevitable: some patients are adversarial, some are upset about insurance reimbursements, some may have just had a bad day. You might even get negative reviews from ex-employees with a bone to pick, former colleagues, or competitors. We’ve seen it all. In general, the rule of thumb is to be proactive with your reputation and encourage happy patients to leave a review- it’s a simple way to build up a safety net of positive reviews that will offset a negative review, if you ever get one. However, what if you’ve already gotten a negative review… or several?
First, stay calm. Once you’ve let the criticism rest for 24 hours and talked it over with someone else, preferably someone from our team, consider if the review was valid and something you can address. If, after careful consideration, you find that it’s not valid, it’s time to address reputation restoration either with our team or on your own.
Luckily, in the case of Vitals, once you claim your profile their dashboard is setup nicely to help you manage your reputation. Follow the steps needed to claim your profile if you intend to manage it yourself (if you’re a client, we will have
already claimed your profile for you), starting by navigating to you profile page, then clicking “claim profile” in the box on the right under your physician name. You’ll need to scroll down the page a bit in order to see it.
Managing Reviews in Vitals.com
What is Vitals.com?
Vitals is physician/practice directory and review site. They state: “It is our mission to arm consumers with the information they need to make the best healthcare choice possible. We seek to provide you with as much objective data as is available on a doctor.” What that means for you, the healthcare provider, is that Vitals is yet another high profile website that patients can vent/rant/rave on. It’s one of the websites we monitor for practices that elect to enroll in our online reputation management for doctors.
Who is Vitals?
From their website: “Vitals is comprised of a team of dedicated experts in the fields of healthcare, marketing, and database management. Vitals is owned by MDx Medical, Inc with headquarters in Lyndhurst, NJ. Our mailing address is Vitals, 210 Clay Ave, Suite 140, Lyndhurst, NJ 07071. Our phone number is 201-842-0760.” Be advised that it’s very difficult to get someone on the phone at Vitals, and it’s far easier to email through their contact page. Their response time is shockingly quick.
Why Should You Care?
Vitals, along with Healthgrades & RateMDs, is one of the larger physician review sites. Their review system, unlike the structured rating system of Healthgrades, lends itself to lengthy write ups from patients. And, if you don’t remember from our previous posts on physician reputation management, the patients with the most to say are those who had a negative experience. It pays to keep an eye on your profile on this website.
How to Remove Negative Reviews on Vitals
Once you’ve claimed your profile in Vitals, when you login you will see a dashboard that allows you to edit your professional information as well as manage reviews. You’ll see a “reviews” section in the toolbar on the left hand side when you’re in your dashboard.
Once you’re in the reviews section, you’ll see each individual review that has been left about you. It includes the screen name the person chose, a date, and the star rating & text of their review. This is the section where you’ll be able to easily read through the reviews and respond when it makes sense.
A note on responding to reviews:
I’ve seen an increasing number of physicians who want to be involved in crafting a response to negative reviews. There’s nothing wrong with that. However, when you respond to a review, think of yourself as your own PR person- you want to stick to facts, WITHOUT violating HIPAA, and you want to make sure that the reviewer feels acknowledged and respected. I know you want to defend yourself and your practice, but you’ll do more harm than good if you respond in a way that makes the reviewer feel like you’re dismissing their negative experience. This is why we advise our clients to let us craft the response- more often than not it’s generic, but it’s safer and ensures that your side of the story is heard without ‘kicking the hornets nest’.
Unlike most of the large physician review sites, Vitals allows you to suppress 2 reviews. This isn’t widely publicized by Vitals, and I’ve yet to come across a statement from the company that explains when or why they opened this up. It’s a wonderful idea: in the case of invalid reviews (those from terminated employees, former partners, etc), this gives you the opportunity to remove those negative reviews that never should have existed in the first place.
When you’ve identified the negative review you wish to suppress, click “HIDE” under the pencil icon. This will effectively remove the bad review from your public profile. It will still exist on the back end in your reputation management portal, in case you ever wish to ‘show’ it again (more on why this is important in a bit).
You can only remove two reviews at this time. Keep this in mind when you’re reading through everything, especially if you have more than two negative reviews. We recommend hiding reviews based on the following criteria:
- If it’s clearly an ex employee or competitor (telltale signs include talking about how awful the physician is to staff, details only staff would know, or saying another physician is better)
- If it’s divulging personal information about you (after hiding, alert Vitals staff through their contact page and they’ll likely remove the review completely, giving you back that spot in case you need to hide another review in the future)
- Especially negative reviews that are over a year old- by then, the reviewer has ‘moved on’ and will be less likely to retaliate with further negative reviews if they notice theirs is missing
In the case of current negative reviews, we often feel it’s better to address them. You can respond to the review by clicking the pencil icon next to it. Leaving a calm, coherent response that acknowledges the patients feelings and states your intentions of taking negative review to heart in an effort to improve the practice often does a world of good in keeping things civil, and may even prompt the patient to delete the review.
Once you’ve suppressed two reviews, you’ll get a warning at the top of the dashboard when you try to hide any other reviews. If you’ve got an especially heinous review that you want to remove and you’ve already hidden two, you’ll need to ‘unhide’ one of the old reviews by clicking the SHOW link on the review management dashboard panel. There’s no way to hide more than two reviews, even if you pay for services through Vitals.
What is the best way to deal with physician review websites?
Monitoring new reviews is part of a good online review strategy. Working with a group like ours means that you’ll have an ally constantly watching over your profile on Vitals.com as well as other physician review sites. Most important is implementing a strategy to motivate happy patients to share their experience online, to act as a safeguard against negative reviews. Remember: there is no more motivated a reviewer than someone who feels they’ve been done wrong. We highly recommend working proactively to get positive reviews before you ever receive a negative review, and if your reputation has already been damaged by bad reviews, to contact us to enact a reputation restoration plan.