How to Improve the Patient Experience Using Social Media

Social media is a force of nature. For some, every thought, action or feeling we have is posted online for the world to see. It seems logical that companies would use this information to their advantage, right?

Peer-to-peer healthcare is now how consumers engage with the market. We value the opinions of peers and strangers on the Internet more than ever before. Our active participation in the online community spans to every aspect of our lives: from reading Yelp reviews on the best NYC eateries to researching important healthcare decisions.

Hospitals already use social media as a marketing tool, but there’s the potential to collect real-time information on these mediums to help improve the patient experience. It’s about social listening and leveraging social media to inform your organization.

Be Where the Consumer Lives

Be active on social media. Create social media handles for individual hospitals within a healthcare network. It’s important to make the distinction because one hospital might have a different set of complaints than others in the same network. People also have unique experiences with every hospital visit, and it’s important to not appear inaccessible because no effort is put into social media. Whether it’s sharing hospital updates with patients, providing tips to prevent sickness, or sharing news regarding an outbreak or disease, it’s important for healthcare providers to actively use social media to share information and respond to patient inquiries or complaints.

Use Social Listening

Social media is a giant force because our stories are able to spread instantaneously. A tweet or Facebook post about a deadly virus has the ability to spread faster than the actual virus. Social media provides an outlet for healthcare providers to see and hear what consumers have to say, so it’s important to listen. A patient that’s experienced exceptional or poor service can easily voice their praise or concern online for others to see.

Before getting my wisdom teeth removed, I checked online about the recovery process. People that had negative experiences had the loudest opinions. They spared no details, even naming the surgeons and hospitals that conducted the procedures. This is invaluable information for healthcare providers, and it also gives them the chance to make it right. Many times, disgruntled patients just like to know that they were heard.

Analyze Your Insights

You can strengthen relationships and audience engagement by encouraging open dialogue and responding to feedback. Monitor keywords and the hospital’s social mentions to get a feel for consumer opinion. Use this information to tweak problem areas and make improvements. If consumers are consistently tweeting or posting complaints about online bill pay, the hospital should address this problem, and then thank patients for bringing it to their attention. Social listening makes it easier for healthcare providers to understand what the public thinks about service. Using this feedback to affect change can improve the patient experience and increase positive word-of-mouth referrals.