Negative feedback examples and how doctors can respond effectively

Jennifer Campisi

6 min read Last Updated Apr 8, 2020

Online reputation management can make or break your healthcare practice. According to a recent survey, 62.7% of patients consider online reviews as “critical” or “very critical” when selecting a healthcare provider. Today, we share 8 negative feedback examples and dig into how these healthcare providers responded, why it was effective, and how you can find the best tone for your business. 

The number of people who find their healthcare providers from online reviews is continuing to grow, so it’s essential that doctors focus on responding to negative feedback to maximize the advantages of good reviews and reduce the damage from negative ones. No matter how wonderful you and your staff try to create great patient experiences, no one is perfect. Your business will encounter good, bad, and unpleasant reviews and if your practice has two or three recent bad reviews, you can lose 67% of potential patients who read that negative feedback. While it’s true that you can’t control what patients write, you can control how you are responding to negative reviews in a way that makes them feel heard and may even prompt them to change their sentiment. When you should your current customers that you care, you can turn a negative review into a positive one.

There are many ways you can respond to your patient’s negative feedback. Below, we give 8 examples of negative reviews that doctor’s responded to in different ways. All these ways are good, but consider which tactful approach is the best fit for your practice.

Negative feedback examples

  • Genuine Response
  • Candid Response
  • Humble Response
  • Professional Response
  • Subtle Response
  • Honest Response
  • Free-Spoken Response
  • Sincere Response

#1 Patient vs Dr. David Kim (Plastic Surgeon)

The Genuine Response

In this example, the patient accuses Dr. Kim of gathering paid reviews and attempting multiple surgeries on patients to make extra money and even intentionally failing the first surgery. Dr. Kim takes a genuine response approach which could not have been easy! See below how Dr. Kim appeals to the humanity of the business, listens to the patient, and seems genuinely sorry that this patient feels this way. He approaches each topic that the review brought up and makes a genuine effort to try and clear up confusion where he can.

negative feedback examples

Source: Yelp

#2 Patient vs. Dr. William K. (Dermatologist)

A Candid Response

After a 2-star rating, the patient lashes out at Dr. Kwan for enticing his patients with his spaceship-like clinic, sporting a luxurious look and delivering over-priced services. Take a look at the clinic office manager’s response to see how calmly she handled the criticism, avoiding a direct rebuttal. This is the opposite approach Dr. Kim’s above. For this type of response tactic, you are responding but still keeping it professional and short. This is great negative feedback examples that are more opinion than fact. 

And guess what? This is how other patients are rating his response!

Source: Yelp

#3 Patient vs Dr. Gray (Plastic Surgeon)

A Humble Response

The patient is infuriated with Dr. Gray for disrespecting her time and arriving late for every appointment. Read Dr. Gray’s measured response with a short and sweet apology. Obviously, you need to be cautious about posting an apology, especially as it applies to patient care. But in this situation, it’s perfect. While responding to negative reviews, address any situation that comes your way and learn from it. Keep asking for more positive reviews from your patients to keep a check on your online reputation.

Source: Yelp

#4 Patient vs. Dr. Bigles (Ophthalmologist)

A Professional Response

A 1-Star rating is followed by a harshly negative review. Dr. Bigles’ response is concise and professional, and while it expresses concern, it does not acknowledge any wrongdoing. This is a great starting place for anyone responding to negative reviews but still unsure about how to approach it. For extra help, we have this guide for you: how to address negative customer feedback.

Source: Facebook

#5 Patient vs. Dr. Sherry S. (Dentist)

A Subtle Response

This review’s not outright negative. However, it’s a delight to see how Dr. Shieh responds in a concise manner, keeping her tone neutral and getting across her point to the patient. She’s objectively looked at the criticism from the patient’s point of view. Many customers prefer to see 3 or 4-star reviews because they seem more genuine. When you respond it shows that you are an active practice that cares about their customers, even if it is short!

Source: Yelp

#6 Patient vs. Dr. Lloyd Becker (Dentist)

An Honest Response

The patient has gone all out and called Dr. Becker’s treatment “a scam.” She’s condemning him for overcharging and calling him dishonest. Dr. Becker graciously thanks the patient for writing a review, acknowledges her frustration and at the same time avoids admitting fault.

Source: Yelp

#7 Patient vs. Dr. Julie Tran (Dentist)

A Free-Spoken Response

This is a hurtful review for an accomplished doctor. In her response, Dr. Tran expresses her despair on the patient’s harsh comments regarding their practices. Seeing the reviewer is extremely upset, she asks her to come to her office to address her concerns. This is an excellent negative feedback example of assuring the patient that you genuinely want to fix their concerns.

Source: Yelp

#8 Patient vs Dr. Shu Ping

A Sincere Response

This review is not about the doctor or the services provided by the clinic. The patient is unhappy with the front desk’s behavior and inability to offer her a resolution for her queries. Dr. Ping takes the initiative to respond to the review and promises to fix the issue, without defending her staff. With doctors, a lot of bad reviews (and good feedback!) will be about your staff or members of your team. If you often hear that your staff is rude, inattentive, or dismissive, it’s a good idea to take a hard look at your customer service and make some changes. While responding to negative feedback, use this opportunity to improve your patient experience.

negative feedback

Source: Yelp

After taking a look at these negative feedback examples, you can see that it comes down to responding in a professional manner to reviews. With hundreds of review sites easily accessible to patients, your healthcare practice will get negative online reviews. The ultimate goal is to start a dialogue that will help you not only to respond to negative reviews but also improve patient relationships.

60% of patients state that it’s critical for doctors to respond to reviews. If making that part of your practice without having to dedicate staff time to monitoring multiple sites is a goal, BirdEye can send you real-time alerts when you receive new reviews and makes it simple respond directly from one place to resolve patient issues. With BirdEye, you can monitor your reviews and respond to them, and the best part is that all this can be done from a single location.