Yes, I use Yelp and Google reviews to find good restaurants, and love reading reviews, and I yes have business Yelp and Google pages to help patients find me. Unlike HealthGrades, Vitals, RateMD, and the traditional physician reputation scores, these physician profiles are voluntarily put on the same forum as a coffee house, nail salon or lawn irrigation by us, the physician. The Yelp/Google consumers are quick to give you a high five 5-star review but equally quick to give you a scathing review. I’m not getting into whether Google is better than Yelp for reviews; that’s for another post. I’m also not talking about Press-Ganey which is solicited by hospital systems to garner rating for themselves. Those are made public as the hospital sees fit.
So, Yelp/Google reviews create a new problem for us physicians (by our own doing… remember we set up our own SEO business pages to compete in the local market). Do we need to stay their doctor if we feel like we have been unjustly or wrongly judged in the public eye, publicly humiliated, called names, or called a thief? (Even if reportable and comment taken down) I feel like this is a resounding “Hell No”.
You want authentic medicine?
It’s not really about the public humiliation, it is more about the personality of the patient, the consumerism of heath care, and the demands and entitlement mentality.
You want physicians who are true to themselves, happy, and not burned out? Well, we are imperfect humans trying our best. We have good days and bad. We are tracked, credentialed, analyzed, scrutinized by payers, hospital systems, and the government. We try to anticipate patient needs. We have personal lives. We have pets that get sick, kids we stay up with all night if need be. We don’t call in sick, we come in tired and weary, and see patients in clinic (because that’s better than cancelling clinic, right?).
We are practicing medicine and saving lives and hoping to make a difference. We want to build a healthy therapeutic physician-patient relationship. What we are not doing is thinking in the back of our minds whether patients are going to write a scathing review because we didn’t return their call, or didn’t send in the prescription on time, or other infractions they come up with. I’m not talking about those dangerous doctors who the public needs protecting from.
Under what circumstances do you fire a patient?
My mantra is “it’s easier to find a good new patient than find good new staff.” There is a formal code of ethicsthe AMA has defined for physcian-patient relationships. Here is my code of ethics: Abusive demanding patients- no thank you. If you are making my staff cry, no thank you, even if my staff are at fault. Even if they didn’t give me a message. Be civil, don’t use expletives. Backing my staff up is probably the top reason I fire a patient. If a patient has something to say, say it to the doctor (most won’t, they are all smiles when we walk in) but instead they growl at the staff. Negative social media reviews irreversibly break down the physician-patient relationship. We can’t come back from those and keep you as a patient.
A close second is the drug seeking patient, patients who abuse medication I’m prescribing, or lies about other prescribers. Other reasons to fire a patient are breaking the contract they sign regarding chronic unremedied nonpayment, chronic no shows, making threats, groping, and now you can add negative social media reviews to the list.
To the kind, tolerant patient
We love you, thank you for the kindness you show us and our staff. Thank you for the homemade gifts, Christmas cards, treats from your travels, and dog shampoo you’ve dropped off for my pup. Thank you for allowing me to reschedule you so I could attend my daughters 5th grade talent show. Thank you for bringing me gardenias that you grew in your garden, and the quilt you made me after your knee replacement. For the wine labeled “paranoia” you brought in to make me laugh about your somatic complaints. Thank you for the updates about your kids, graduation and wedding invitations, tolerating that I run late sometimes, and asking me how my day is. Thank you for caring that I’m ok and allowing me to be human. You make it worth it, don’t change!
To the disgruntled patient
If you live in a small town, or are uninsured/underinsured with only a few options, burning that doctor bridge will make things harder for you. If you ask for medical records to be transferred, we have our own internal patient review system. We like to include the reasons a patient has been dismissed from our practice. It becomes part of your medical record. We are more than happy to let your new doctor know they need to watch their back with you.
This is not a box that has wrapping which is too hard to open warranting a one-star review on Amazon, this isn’t a cold meal or a bad manicure. This is healthcare. It’s messy and real.
- AMA Code of Medical Ethics Opinions on Patient-Physician Relationships
- Texas Medicine “Terminating the Relationship Requires Care”
- Trends and Factors Associated with Physician Burnout at a Multispecialty Academic Faculty Practice Organization article
- Google prohibited or restricted content
- Yelp Support Center Will Yelp remove a false or defamatory review?