October 3, 2023

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Ideas for Health care Organizations Handling Negative On the internet Evaluations | Woods Rogers Vandeventer Black

A healthcare organization’s online presence is an critical ingredient of its popularity. Often, dissatisfied individuals will publish detrimental assessments about healthcare providers on social media and buyer evaluation platforms these types of as Yelp or Google.

Health care companies and companies may perhaps endeavor to mitigate the consequences of these negative opinions by responding to a patient’s evaluate. In performing so, companies ought to take safety measures to safeguard patient privateness and secured health and fitness information and facts (PHI).

A the latest HIPAA settlement involving a health care supplier and the U.S. Office of Overall health and Human Solutions (HHS), Office for Civil Legal rights (OCR), underscores the great importance of proceeding cautiously in responding to on the web critiques.

Potential Repercussions of Responding to Negative On line Critiques

In June, HHS-OCR introduced a settlement with a New Jersey health care company of psychiatric services who disclosed PHI when responding to damaging patient reviews on the web.

OCR done an investigation and observed that the company violated the Health Coverage Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privateness Rule by impermissibly disclosing four patients’ PHI, together with precise data about the patients’ diagnoses and procedure of their psychological overall health disorders. OCR also located that the company failed to put into practice ideal policies and methods with respect to PHI.

As aspect of the settlement, the company agreed to spend $30,000 to OCR and to carry out a corrective motion approach (CAP) to take care of possible violations.

In reaction to continuing OCR complaints about identical violations, OCR Director Melanie Fontes Rainer stated, “The HIPAA Privacy Rule expressly guards sufferers from this type of action, which is a very clear violation of the two affected individual have confidence in and the regulation. OCR will investigate and acquire motion when we study of these impermissible disclosures, no make a difference how significant or small the group.”

Suggestions for Responding to Destructive Online Evaluations

Established plan. Health care organizations and companies should be aware of authorized and moral obligations when considering how to react to detrimental reviews on social media and the online.  Health care corporations ought to develop unique procedures addressing the disclosure of PHI on the internet and social media that are compliant with HIPAA and other state and federal privateness legislation. Once rules are proven, suppliers ought to frequently review and train staff members on insurance policies and finest techniques.

Stay informed. Vendors need to remain up to day on moral assistance on these difficulties. For case in point, the American Health care Affiliation has published assistance on this subject, as perfectly as ethical opinions: E-2.3.2 Professionalism in the Use of Social Media and D-478.980 Anonymous Cyberspace Evaluations of Doctors.

Other Dos and Don’ts of responding to unfavorable on the web testimonials are shared underneath:


  • In its place of responding online, take into consideration achieving out to the client independently to address their fears.
  • If you select to respond, restrict the reaction to a dialogue of the provider’s related policies and methods.
  • Talk to lawful counsel if you have issues about how to appropriately respond although complying with HIPAA and condition privateness guidelines.


  • Do not respond straight away. If you decide on to reply, choose the time to form a compliant and professional response.
  • Do not disclose any data about the patient, which includes the truth that the individual is a affected individual.
  • Do not be discouraged. Technique assessments as perception into how to strengthen in the potential.

This posting was authored with the assistance of Summer time Associate Nicole Chaney. Nicole is pursuing her JD at the Wake Forest School of Regulation.