Years ago, word of mouth traveled around town. If someone had a bad experience (for example, with a physician), that person told ten friends who may have each told 5 others. That’s a total of 60 people who are likely no longer customers.

Today, the effect is much, much bigger.

Today, the friend goes on social media to tell his/her entire network, which could mean a few hundred people. Even more powerful, he/she can venture to review sites. These sites can reach anyone, anywhere, anytime and they have a targeted audience – your targeted audience.

RateMDs, Vitals and Healthgrades

Websites, like RateMDs, Vitals and Healthgrades, are the Yelp! of the medical industry. These are the primary websites that people use to review and evaluate their experience with healthcare professionals online. (Although Yelp! and Google+ [also called Google My Business or Google+ Local] are also used by some individuals.) To understand how they affect your business, it’s important to understand what they communicate to the user:

  • RateMDs: Though RateMDs has a star rating system of 1-5, these star ratings are typically not visible from Google search results. However, the site does allow the user to publish a written review of the doctor, which could be very helpful or harmful, depending upon the experience.
  • Vitals: Vitals also allows users to write a review of the doctor (though it does require an extra click to see the reviews, which new users may miss). It utilizes a 1-5 star rating system, as well. However, unlike RateMDs, the star ratings are clearly visible in Google’s search results. This means that a user can very quickly see how a doctor is rated with minimal effort. It also may tip a passive user off to the perceived quality of the doctor as the stars do have the ability to stand out in search results.
  • Healthgrades: Healthgrades does not have a written review section though it does have a more in-depth star rating section. This star rating is also directly visible in the search results. Healthgrades usually has a higher volume of reviews and is typically higher up in the search results, thus more likely to be seen by prospective patients.

What Does a Bad Review Cost?

Picture this: You are an orthopedic practice with an average new patient value of $800. However, you have some bad reviews and show a two-star rating in search results. How will that affect you?

Well, consider this: Most people Google a doctor when they are referred by another physician or friend. They want to know a little more about the doctor before they officially pull the trigger, so to speak. When doing so, reviews will pop up in their search, if they aren’t already looking for them. One way or another, a bad review will be seen.

Now, for argument’s sake, let’s say that 20 percent of people who Google a doctor and see a 2-star rating, decide to go elsewhere (and that is likely a very conservative number). If you received 100 searches in a given month, that’s 20 lost patients, or $16,000 per month in lost revenue.

In a year, those reviews will cost your practice $192,000 with a conservative 20 percent dropout rate.

It’s time to reclaim the lost patients.

Developing a Strategy For Healthcare Review Sites

The good news is, that in most cases, it is very possible to stop the revenue leak that is coming from what is likely the bad experience of an incredibly small minority of patients. To do so, a concrete strategy needs to be created and executed. Though the details certainly vary on a case by case basis, there are generally five overarching steps that we recommend for dealing with bad reviews:

  1. Dispute poor reviews. There are many instances where you can dispute a negative review on a doctor review website and get it removed. This is easier if there is factually incorrect information, slander or if you can prove the person was never a patient. Sometimes it is possible to remove reviews even without these factors. As written reviews can often be damaging, this is usually recommended as the first step and is always worth a try.
  2. Respond properly to negative reviews that cannot be removed. If a review cannot be removed, it is important to address it. A carefully written response can be disarming, show that you really do care and that you display a desire to resolve any issues a patient may have had. In many cases, a well-written response can even cast you in a better light than a removed review. These need to be written carefully though and a good PR company or marketing agency can certainly provide some guidance.
  3. Create a strategy for new reviews. If you have one good review and one bad, to a user it looks as if half of your patients are unhappy. If there are five good reviews to one bad review, the bad one looks like the lone voice (and you have over a 4-star rating!). The truth for most practices is that the proportion of happy patients is much higher than websites show. Put those happy patients to work for you! Most people are happy to help if they know they can. Create a strategy to encourage happy patients to leave reviews. They will dilute the bad reviews and change the perception of your practice.
  4. Train your staff well. Interestingly, a significant number of negative reviews for physicians have nothing to do with the physicians but with the office staff. However, there is no disconnect for patients. They typically perceive the doctor and the practice as one in the same, and a poorly trained office staff can cost significant money. If your staff is rude, does not have correct information or even if the office just looks in poor shape, this will affect your reviews. If this is an issue at your practice, we highly recommend looking into customer service training.
  5. Promote good news. Most offices and doctors are also doing great things outside of the office. If there is something newsworthy or worth promoting, this isn’t the time to be humble. Promoting good news (e.g., awards, charity work, etc.) can help people feel an emotional connection with the practice, feel more confident in the practice and overlook some of the perceived negativity. It can also push negative reviews down a little bit more in the search results.

If a plan like this is executed and your online impression is improved (even with some flaws), the results can be major. For example, if you can bring a 2-star practice up to a 4-star practice, that may change the patient drop off rate from 20 percent to 10 percent. That’s a revenue increase of $8,000 per month or $96,000 per year. In a more likely scenario of 40 to 50 percent of patients not scheduling appointments for a 2-star doctor, with only 10 percent dropping off for a 4-star doctor, that’s a savings of $24,000 in a month or $288,000 in a year. This is a significant increase in revenue, all for just addressing your online reputation.

And, if you need help getting started, just let us know. We’re experts in healthcare marketing and can take care of all your marketing needs from digital presence to customer service training.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Our Partners

facebook marketing partner
google partner
shopify logo
hubspot partner program

European Office

Agentur Webfox

Berlin, Germany

Join Our Newsletter!

@ 2023 Points Group / All Rights Reserved

Privacy Policy

This Privacy Policy governs the manner in which Points Group, LLC collects, uses, maintains and discloses information collected from users (each, a “User”) of the website (“Site”). This privacy policy applies to the Site and all products and services offered by Points Group, LLC.


We may collect personal identification information from Users in a variety of ways, including, but not limited to, when Users visit our site, subscribe to the newsletter, respond to a survey, fill out a form, and in connection with other activities, services, features or resources we make available on our Site. Users may visit our Site anonymously. We will collect personal identification information from Users only if they voluntarily submit such information to us. Users can always refuse to supply personal identification information, except that it may prevent them from engaging in certain Site related activities.


We may collect non-personal identification information about Users whenever they interact with our Site. Non-personal identification information may include the browser name, the type of computer and technical information about User’s means of connection to our Site, such as the operating system and the Internet service providers utilized and other similar information.


Our Site may use “cookies” to enhance User experience. User’s web browser places cookies on their hard drive for record-keeping purposes and sometimes to track information about them. User may choose to set their web browser to refuse cookies, or to alert them when cookies are being sent. If they do so, note that some parts of the Site may not function properly.


Points Group, LLC may collect and use Users personal information for the following purposes:

  • To improve customer service
  • Information you provide helps us respond to your customer service requests and support needs more efficiently.
  • To personalize user experience
  • We may use information in the aggregate to understand how our Users as a group use the services and resources provided on our Site.
  • To improve our Site
  • We may use feedback you provide to improve our products and services.
  • To run a promotion, contest, survey or other Site feature
  • To send Users information they agreed to receive about topics we think will be of interest to them.
  • To send periodic emails
  • We may use the email address to respond to their inquiries, questions, and/or other requests. If User decides to opt-in to our mailing list, they will receive emails that may include company news, updates, related product or service information, etc. If at any time the User would like to unsubscribe from receiving future emails, we include detailed unsubscribe instructions at the bottom of each email.


We adopt appropriate data collection, storage and processing practices and security measures to protect against unauthorized access, alteration, disclosure or destruction of your personal information, username, password, transaction information and data stored on our Site.


We do not sell, trade, or rent User’s personal identification information to others. We may share generic aggregated demographic information not linked to any personal identification information regarding visitors and users with our business partners, trusted affiliates and advertisers for the purposes outlined above. We may use third party service providers to help us operate our business and the Site or administer activities on our behalf, such as sending out newsletters or surveys. We may share your information with these third parties for those limited purposes provided that you have given us your permission.


Users may find advertising or other content on our Site that link to the sites and services of our partners, suppliers, advertisers, sponsors, licensors and other third parties. We do not control the content or links that appear on these sites and are not responsible for the practices employed by websites linked to or from our Site. In addition, these sites or services, including their content and links, may be constantly changing. These sites and services may have their own privacy policies and customer service policies. Browsing and interaction on any other website, including websites which have a link to our Site, is subject to that website’s own terms and policies.


Points Group, LLC has the discretion to update this privacy policy at any time. When we do, we will revise the updated date at the bottom of this page. We encourage Users to frequently check this page for any changes to stay informed about how we are helping to protect the personal information we collect. You acknowledge and agree that it is your responsibility to review this privacy policy periodically and become aware of modifications.


By using this Site, you signify your acceptance of this policy. If you do not agree to this policy, please do not use our Site. Your continued use of the Site following the posting of changes to this policy will be deemed your acceptance of those changes.


If you have any questions about this Privacy Policy, the practices of this site, or your dealings with this site, please contact us at:

Points Group, LLC

150 Morristown Road, Suite 220

Bernardsville, NJ 07924

This document was last updated on July 24, 2014