Every hospital knows Medicare is beginning to tie some payments to patient satisfaction. What the smarter ones are discovering is that social media offers a quick, broad and often highly effective sampling of opinion as to what can improve the patient experience. Some new examples were cited in the mainstream media last week of how hospitals are using Facebook and Twitter (among other social platforms) for input on all sorts of initiatives, including new services and facility names (via The Wall Street Journal).
Satisfaction well beyond Facebook ‘likes’
With an established correlation between Facebook ‘likes’ and reduced patient mortality, it’s no wonder healthcare providers look to myriad digital avenues and resources for engaging patients, including Pinterest and even “Big Data.” With the more sophisticated adopters, however, patients are doing much more than “liking” Facebook pages. As the WSJ article notes (“More Hospitals Use Social Media to Gather Feedback from Patients’ Families”), they are contributing candid opinions on all sorts of processes, including complex scheduling and the preference to get appointment confirmations via text message. In addition to using social media to build greater brand recognition; promote wellness and health behaviors; and conduct marketing services, workforce recruitment and reputation management; providers also use it to conduct surveys of family and patient advisory groups.
These surveys can cement the bond between patients and physicians, as well as families and providers. As Shannon Pencek, a mother of a boy whose syndrome requires numerous regular medical appointments, was quoted, “For them to ask for our opinions builds that connection even more.” Pencek’s situation demonstrates another benefit: That surveys/feedback groups conducted via social media also allow those who may be far away from a particular hospital (or otherwise engaged) a way to express themselves without having to be physically present for a meeting.
Social media & innovative engagement
What strikes me most about these newly cited hospital uses of social media is both the potential quality of individual responses and breadth of information gathered. These kinds of patient surveys can help:
- Give hospitals practical info on day-to-day operations that affect patients
- Allow a greater range of opinions to contribute to hospital improvements
- Increase loyalty (a consequence of increased patient satisfaction)
For more illustrations on how to use social media effectively from the provider side, check out our white paper on social media in the top 15 health systems.
Photo courtesy of AJ Batac via Flickr.