Barb Davids

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Do you know of a resource of how to handle, or if it's allowed, to respond to reviews on GMB for a dentist in AU. It seems that the AU dental board prohibits the use of testimonials. I wanted to ask the client to respond to their Google reviews but it seems they aren't allowed to encourage it. Which also limits being able to use them on the website. And now that we're beginning email marketing, I'm afraid to even show a logo of their accreditation.

If you've had experience similar to this scenario, I'd appreciate your thoughts and any resources you might have.

Cheers!
Barb
 

Phil Rozek

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@Barb Davids, you may have noticed part of the rules that slipped by me, but under "4.3.2 Are patient reviews permitted in advertising?" I'm not seeing anything that says or implies you can't encourage reviews. Maybe there is strategic ambiguity that allows the Dental Board a "know it when we see it" discretion. But the restrictions seem to be around how you can and cannot use reviews ("testimonials") once you have them. No-no practices would seem to include cherry-picking or excerpting reviews to put on your site, and mentioning your reviews or average rating in AdWords ads, for example.

In any event, I've had some clients and consultation clients in a similarly strict environment. A few SOPs that have served them pretty well:

1. Never ask patients for 5-star reviews, or for another specific rating. Just ask for honest feedback. (This is what I tell everyone, but it's extra important here.)

2. Tell patients they do NOT need to go into specifics of their treatment, care, condition, medical history, etc. However much or little detail they want to provide in the review is fine.

3. Mention as an option a review site - like HealthGrades, or in this case the Australian equivalent - that allows for anonymous reviews. So a patient doesn't need to pick between using their real name and a pen name (a longstanding problem with Google reviews).

4. Have a designated "review person" send out requests to patients with discretion, rather than load names and emails into software and hope for the best. Preferably it's someone who's had some contact with those patients already, but that's just a bonus.
 

Barb Davids

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@Barb Davids, you may have noticed part of the rules that slipped by me, but under "4.3.2 Are patient reviews permitted in advertising?" I'm not seeing anything that says or implies you can't encourage reviews. Maybe there is strategic ambiguity that allows the Dental Board a "know it when we see it" discretion. But the restrictions seem to be around how you can and cannot use reviews ("testimonials") once you have them. No-no practices would seem to include cherry-picking or excerpting reviews to put on your site, and mentioning your reviews or average rating in AdWords ads, for example.

In any event, I've had some clients and consultation clients in a similarly strict environment. A few SOPs that have served them pretty well:

1. Never ask patients for 5-star reviews, or for another specific rating. Just ask for honest feedback. (This is what I tell everyone, but it's extra important here.)

2. Tell patients they do NOT need to go into specifics of their treatment, care, condition, medical history, etc. However much or little detail they want to provide in the review is fine.

3. Mention as an option a review site - like HealthGrades, or in this case the Australian equivalent - that allows for anonymous reviews. So a patient doesn't need to pick between using their real name and a pen name (a longstanding problem with Google reviews).

4. Have a designated "review person" send out requests to patients with discretion, rather than load names and emails into software and hope for the best. Preferably it's someone who's had some contact with those patients already, but that's just a bonus.

Thanks, Phil. Good ideas. I couldn't find it explicitly that they couldn't respond, but I thought it heard somewhere that by responding it's implying something. I'll have to give some more thought and definitely going to consider these. Appreciate your feedback.
 

Phil Rozek

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Sure thing, @Barb Davids. On a re-read it looks like you were asking more about responses than about "how are we supposed to encourage reviews?" (Though of course there is some overlap.) Oops.

Like you, I don't see any language in the guidelines that says you can't respond, so the "useful ambiguity" caveat probably applies here, too.

At least for practices in the US (and as you may know), the issue with responding with reviews is if the doctor or staff member mentions specifics of the patient's situation, or even confirms that the patient was or is a patient. For example, it's fine if a dentist asks for reviews and if a patient goes into gruesome detail about his or her condition, treatment, etc. It's fine if the dentist says something squishy or that doesn't confirm anything the patient said, like "Thanks!" or "We appreciate your review." An example of a non-compliant response would be "We're so glad we were able to fix your Austin Powers teeth!"

My assumption is Australia has (probably) a less-strict version of HIPAA, which would mean that vague, non-confirming responses are OK.
 

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