We all know online ratings and reviews can impact your reputation, and the secret to offset a negative review is to balance it out with a 5-star review. If you only have one review, and it’s a negative one, there’s not much you can do about it. A better approach might be to ask 30 patients who love you to write good reviews. These 30 5-star reviews will counteract that 1-star review and can make you look reputable.

Ratings and reviews matter, whether it’s for pizza, shoes, or a doctor; yet, due to the HIPAA Privacy rule, doctors are limited in their abilities to defend themselves. “I always tell providers that the best defense is a good offense, so try to constantly get reviews from your patients as often as you can,” says Lisa Dye, founder and president of Infinity Medical Marketing in Nashville, TN. She suggests every doctor register their business and address with Google My Business, which is not only good for search engine optimization (SEO) but allows the business to show up on a map. Doctors should also scour the first few pages of Google to claim their profile or listing.

“Reviews are good for SEO and building an online reputation,” Dye says. “They’re also helpful in finding out what’s not working in your office.” Reviews are often not related to the care the patient receives from the doctor but more about the interaction the patient had with the receptionist or about a bill they received.”

If a disgruntled employee or family member of a disgruntled employee leaves a negative review, a doctor can notify Google and ask them to remove it. But, unless a patient’s negative review violates Google’s policies, there’s not much a doctor can do. “I tell doctors to NEVER ask the patient who posted it to remove it,” Dye explains. “What I suggest instead is that they call the patient, thank them for leaving a review, say they’re sorry they had that experience, and tell them they’re going to fix the issue now that they’ve been made aware of it.” By adopting this approach, she adds, a patient will usually respond by suggesting they’ll remove the negative review online.

If a patient says something that’s untrue or casts aspersions about the doctor’s character, a doctor can file a lawsuit. However, this can end up leading to unwanted negative publicity and become a costly legal endeavor.

Dye says the best strategy to ensure a doctor gets positive reviews online is to use automated software. Many EMR systems have built-in software that can send a quick notification to a patient that requests a review right after their visit. “Most of our clients send out review requests by text message as soon as the patient walks out their door. Automation is key, and they find these texts give them the best response rate.”