George posts a Yelp review about a restaurant saying that his hamburger was practically raw and the service was awful. One Star.
The restaurant responds, saying that George asked for a rare burger and the service was bad because George kept badgering the waitress for every little thing.
Two sides of the same story and pretty typical for Yelp.
But what if we change that restaurant to a doctor’s office, instead.
Doctor Friendly misdiagnosed my illness, causing me to suffer an enormous amount of pain and now I have permanent damage. One Star.
Doctor Friendly replies; I scheduled you for an MRI, but you didn’t go. Plus, it’s clear from your medical history that you’ve been misusing the medication prescribed by your last doctor. I can’t help you if you won’t help yourself.
Not really the same thing is it?
It’s never wise to snap back at a customer in public, even if the customer is wrong. But when medical practitioners cross that line it’s not just bad form, it’s illegal.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, (HIPPA) forbids medical professionals from disclosing patient information without the patient’s permission, but that isn’t stopping doctors and dentists from firing back with details on Yelp.
ProPublica did a search of Yelp records and found more than 3,500 one star medical reviews where the patients said their privacy had been violated. Some deleted their reviews for their own protection but others were willing to let it stand as further proof of a doctor’s incompetence.
Legal issues aside, no good ever came from fighting a public battle on an public website including Yelp or Facebook. So how do you protect yourself from bad reviews?
Andy Beal says:
When you operate in a highly regulated field or industry, it’s even more important to make sure you have your own systems in place to follow up with customers or patients. If you can directly address any concerns they have before they post on Yelp or RateMDs, you avoid any issues about what you can and cannot say due to HIPAA.
In other words, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.