How Geisinger, Cleveland Clinic, others are responding to negative patient reviews

While many healthcare organizations agree patients should be able to voice their concerns, hospitals and health systems have begun looking for ways to mitigate the effect of negative provider reviews on various online physician rating platforms such as Yelp or Healthgrades that do not involve seeking litigation against the individual commenter, STAT News reports.

Experts in the online physician rating business claim negative reviews are largely the result of a more open and transparent marketplace, the report states. However, instead of combating negative reviews with litigation, many notable hospitals — including the Cleveland Clinic, Danville, Pa.-based Geisinger Health System, and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston — are increasingly posting patient reviews of providers on their respective hospital's websites. Salt Lake City-based University of Utah Hospital was among the first hospitals to begin posting unedited patient comments on its website as early as 2012, the report states.

Providers who post physician reviews directly to their websites argue that third-party rating websites only feature a handful of comments; if even a few of them are negative, patients may be more reluctant to select the hospital or physician as their care provider, the report states. By posting reviews directly on their website, hospitals aim to put negative provider ratings in context, while simultaneously encouraging physicians to "do [their] job better" so that they don't receive any negative reviews, according to the report.

However, some other providers view litigation view litigation to be a better alternative. Individual commenters on third-party websites are not shielded from liability and can therefore be sued for their comments. Two freestanding emergency room facilities in Texas did just that and filed a legal petition in October seeking to force Google to reveal the identities of 22 individuals connected to negative comments about the providers' services, STAT News reports.

Rather than pursue litigation, physicians should instead consider opening the floodgates to all individuals to mitigate the potential effect of negative reviews — widening the pool of reviews opens the doors for more positive reviews to potentially outnumber the negative ones, according to the report.

To read the full report, click here.

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