Online reviews affect nearly every industry, and health care is certainly one of them. What differentiates health care, in this context, is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, or HIPAA.
Under HIPAA, a federal privacy law, health care professionals and providers are not allowed to disclose certain health information about patients without their authorization. This restriction has proven to be a challenge for many health care professionals and providers when it comes to addressing online reviews.
In fact, HIPAA has many in the health care industry feeling as though they have their hands tied behind their backs when it comes to dealing with negative and potentially defamatory online reviews.
In an interview with BuzzFeed for a 2014 feature on this very issue, one California neurosurgeon (who was the subject of an online harassment campaign himself) stated there was no way in 1996 that HIPAA could have anticipated online reviews and the resulting issues.
Responding publicly to false online reviews is risky
Many websites today suggest that business owners or others affected by online reviews simply respond and share their sides of the stories. Ripoff Report, for example, makes the following suggestions to the subjects of consumer complaints: