Online reviews are no longer only used for coffee shops and barbers. Patients have the option to post reviews for their doctors and other mental health care providers—both positive and negative. Through these reviews, practitioners can get useful information to improve their techniques. Also gaining some insight into the experiences of their patients.
But as every business owner discovers, dissatisfied consumers will write about their opinions. Many professionals wonder if they can urge their clients to leave positive reviews. Thus, assisting in developing a positive online reputation.
Clinical Psychologist and Professionals that work in Mental Health Care in Texas
Because there is a strong potential for undue influence, psychologists are prohibited from asking current therapy patients or others for testimonials by the American Psychological Association's (APA) Ethics Code. In a similar vein, the National Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics specifies that social workers should not ask current clients or other individuals who may be susceptible to undue influence owing to their unique circumstances for testimonials.
These restrictions do not, however, stop psychologists, LCSWs, and other mental health care professionals from building a favorable online reputation through their own articles and videos. Your website can feature endorsements from coworkers and other experts in your sector, demonstrating your skill without needing you to reveal client confidentially.
Psychiatrist and other Physicians practicing in Texas
In contrast to psychologists and LCSWs, psychiatrists and other medical physicians are subject to state practice legislation and have different oversight boards.
According to national guidelines from the American Psychiatric Association Ethics Committee, asking patients for feedback on their experiences may help improve the performance of psychiatrists and result in better care for patients.
But, although asking is allowed, providing rewards is not. The majority of review platforms, to start, forbid rewarding patient testimonials. Review services must stop businesses from inflating their customer ratings or, worse still, from buying false reviews to maintain their credibility. On a similar topic, several review sites forbid "review gating," or only asking for evaluations from customers who have had favorable experiences, while telling customers who have had negative experiences to talk about their experiences in private.
Federal and state laws can also be broken through patient incentives. For instance, psychiatrists who give discounts in exchange for patient reviews run the risk of breaking the Anti-Kickback Statute (AKS), which makes it illegal to use incentives or rewards of any kind to entice participants in federal healthcare programs (such as Medicare, TRICARE, or Medicaid patients) to their clinics. Felony charges may be brought for breaking AKS.
Last but not least, the FTC recently released instructions warning against rewarding favorable reviews since doing so could put businesses at danger of breaking the Consumer Review Fairness Act.
How should I respond to these reviews?
Psychiatrists should, of course, exercise caution at all times when reacting to online reviews. It can feel as though the doctor's professional credibility is being attacked when a patient alleges that the doctor gave subpar care. It's only normal to want to defend yourself or your practice.
However, HIPAA mandates that you secure their PHI, including acknowledging that they are one of your patients, regardless of what the patient has chosen to disclose online in a review. It's advisable to stay with standard statements like "We take your criticism seriously."
The skilled health care attorneys at Dike Law Group a Texas Law Firm, can assist you if you have issues about how to handle patient complaints, how to put in place informed consent and disclosure agreements, or how to create a company-wide social media and review policy.