3 Reasons Social Media has EVERYTHING to do with Patient Experience

April 12, 2016 Oi Hua Lee

By now, it’s no secret that social media has taken the world by storm and has rapidly changed the communication landscape. From Twitter and Facebook to LinkedIn and YouTube, the internet has become an outlet for people far and wide to voice their appreciation—and frustrations—for products and services. For better or for worse, one thing is for certain: it is important that we adapt to the changing tide to ensure the patient voice at your organization is properly captured.

Be part of the conversation
*Tappity, tap, tap, tap, tap* These days you can’t swing a ruler without hitting someone tapping away on their phone—not that they’d see you coming—your potential and current patients included. So, why should we care? More and more people are treating healthcare as a consumer purchase, and just as if it were the latest iPhone or a hip new restaurant, they’re looking for reviews and friendly customer service online before they make their decision.
Would-be patients are looking to see what others are saying and to see how your hospital responds to not just the good but also the bad. Conversations or complaints left unattended are viewed as being neglectful. They can also be seen as a reflection of the service they can expect if they came to your hospital. Simply being present to chat and to show that you’re listening can make a world of difference.

Create connections
Often the first place people go to look for answers, share experiences or advice is the internet. Can you blame them? It’s a quick and private way to find information. In 2014, a study found that 80% of patients turn to the internet for healthcare news and education. Organizations who position themselves as conversation facilitators or as a connection to groups that may be helpful to them will show old and new patients alike how much your organization cares, offer them a much sought after sense of empowerment and most of all it brings them into your organizations healthcare community. A sentiment they’re surely to keep in mind when the time comes to choose or recommend a hospital.

Provides valuable insight
While surveys are helpful, patients often forget to fill them out or aren’t always made aware of this vital feedback option. Being active on social media is another way to keep your ears to the ground and listen to what patients have to say about their stay and experiences. Best yet, these are often provided either immediately after a visit or in real-time, and are open to not only patients but their loved ones as well.

When it comes to finding a correlation between tweet sentiment and readmissions or HCAHPS, results between studies have varied. However, one thing is for certain, whether it be the food or service, social media is a complimentary resource to surveys that can provide you with valuable insight.

If your organization currently has no stance on social media, it’s time to strike up the topic again. With the internet literally being in all our pockets and a list of people that they have direct and immediate access to, it’s easy for one bad or good experience to spread quickly. Like it or not, these conversations are going to happen. Whether you join in and have a voice is up to you to lead the charge.

Want to learn more about building a great patient experience program at your hospital? Take a look at this interview we did with Carol Santalucia of Cleveland Clinic.

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