A CIO of a major healthcare system recently stated at a conference that customer complaints via Twitter didn’t concern him. This attitude needs to change across healthcare systems worldwide. Social media may seem silly or irrelevant at times, but the truth is, it offers hospitals an unprecedented ability to target and connect with existing and potential patients, and encourage them to stay loyal, paying customers.
Creating a Relationship
In a 2013 study, 41% of people surveyed stated that social media would impact their choice of a hospital, doctor, or medical facility. Social media platforms offer the general population the opportunity to discuss their experiences with all kinds of businesses, including hospitals. If existing customers are complaining about their experiences with you on Twitter, it’s very possible that potential patients browsing for a hospital on their social media channels are going to notice. Build a positive brand reputation by responding to disgruntled users quickly and by sharing content relevant to your followers. If they feel a positive emotional connection to you, they’ll be more likely to communicate about the revenue cycle and meet their obligations.
People are more likely than ever to seek out medical information online. WebMD, Facebook, and forms on Reddit have replaced the phone call to the family doctor when a kid has a fever or a patient thinks they might have the flu. A hospital that wants to be relevant to patients can’t afford to be left out of that conversation. Content that educates your patients or potential patients about topics like common illnesses, at-home after care, and insurance will ensure they get information from a reliable source. Staying front-of-mind for your patients will remind them of any financial obligations they may have for services.
60% of doctors surveyed in the same 2013 study stated that social media improved the overall quality of care that the patients received. Why? Transparency. Connection on social media allows for real-time remote interaction between hospital and patient. A social media presence also assures your customers that you have nothing to hide. The billing process can be especially murky or surprising for many patients. If they trust your sincerity, they’ll be more likely to cooperate rather than default or get frustrated.
In the end, keeping your patients’ trust and respect will build the loyalty you need. No one wants to shortchange a partner they enjoy working with. By connecting with your patient population on social media, you’re reminding them that you’re an ally, not an adversary—even if you do need them to pay you.