Patient experience is the cornerstone of brand reputation and patient loyalty. And with the move to value-based healthcare, it directly affects the bottom line. Acquisition and retention of customers is now everyone’s priority. Healthcare communicators have an important responsibility and opportunity to improve patient experience and strengthen their organization’s mission by listening to patient feedback, particularly on social media.
Social media is a key growth opportunity for healthcare communicators and, most importantly, it’s not just about paid marketing. Patients want to know what other patients are saying about their care, not advertisers. This patient-to-patient trust is especially evident with the rise of online patient communities. At a recent PR News Healthcare Social Media Summit, it was noted that patients now find content provided by healthcare companies more credible than healthcare news reported by the media (2018 Edelman Trust Barometer), putting healthcare companies “in the optimal position of building relationships with their patients, many of whom seek information about their conditions and community through social channels.”
If patients are looking at social media activity before choosing a healthcare provider, how can healthcare communicators turn these posts into insights that they can act on?
Listen, Don’t Monitor
It starts with truly listening to patients on social media. Many social listening tools monitor chatter on social media and are helpful to catch extremely negative or irregular activity to which you might need to respond. But to incorporate patient experience feedback into strategic communication decisions, social media conversation must be consistently analyzed for the topics that are important to your organization.
Social media feedback can be analyzed for a myriad of data that is relevant to improving the patient experience. Posts can be broken down by topics like service lines, geographic areas, specific facilities, employee interactions, quality of care, care environment, and care costs. These topics can be further broken down by subtopics that show which type of employee the patient interacted with, if that interaction was professional, friendly, or knowledgeable, if the patient spoke positively or negatively to the safety and comfort of their care, or about facility appearance, wait times, and operations.
Analysis of these data points (see chart below) allow healthcare communicators to pinpoint any deficiencies or highlights in patient experience, down to the region, facility, or employee type. The data can be used to inform future campaigns and understand the impact of those campaigns over time. This capability is invaluable for large healthcare systems that span several regions or states and need to ensure consistently excellent patient experience across the organization.