When people think of social media in healthcare, they think of practice websites, or Facebook and Instagram pages. Another aspect of this new digital world is physician-rating websites such as Healthgrades, RateMDs, and Vitals, where patient reviews can have potentially negative impacts.
Leslie Kim, MD, MPH, said physicians should know that HIPAA rules prevent physicians from responding directly to patient reviews. Dr. Kim is division director of facial plastic and reconstructive surgery in the department of otolaryngology–head and neck surgery at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus, and a founding member of the Association for Healthcare Social Media.
“Negative reviews can really hurt your practice, but physicians are limited in their ability to respond,” she said. “One proactive way to ‘manage’ online reviews is to focus on the positive. Seek out happy patients who have really expressed their gratitude, and ask them to write an online review. It’s a nice strategy to employ in today’s digital age.”