This blog post was written by our guest blogger Susan Maxsween, Director of Healthcare-Practice Transformation.
A variety of social media platforms are changing the way consumers share information about personal health, physicians and treatments. The world is now a technologically driven place, and it is in the best interest of both physicians catering to patient needs and an individual seeking proper medical treatment to keep up with these advancements. When used appropriately, social media can be a great tool used to access healthcare while bringing patients and doctors together. In a blog posted last year, we introduced the concept of social media and its growing presence in health care. We discussed the tremendous impact on how patients promote and in essence, market your practice and on the flip side, the negative impact of ignoring what patients may be saying about your practice. Here is a link to that post.
Healthcare continues to undergo a transformation and increasingly is placing a focus on patient-centered care. The true essence of patient centered care is quality driven, which meets the needs of the patient (also known as the healthcare consumer), whether it be how soon they can be seen, timely notification of diagnostic test results or having an interactive portal where they can access their own personal health record and ask questions.
Healthcare delivery requires savvy customer service, just like any other industry, and patient satisfaction is a crucial “barometer” of an organization’s success. It is the collective and equal responsibility of the entire practice to make a good first and lasting impression with the patient. In a recently published blog, we focused our discussion on the role of marketing among all members of the practice staff, and the positive collective power of the entire team in driving the overall positive patient experience. We also discussed the importance of monitoring and assessing patient “touch points,” which occur throughout their encounter and can truly set the tone and overall perception of the patient experience.
An ever-increasing number of medical professionals are embracing marketing and the use of social media to share helpful medical information and provide patient care. Today, there is overwhelming potential for patients to join an online global community of people with the same rare disease or find a doctor on the basis of detailed patient reviews. Social media can also be a great way to empathize with those who need comfort in addition to providing relevant health news. In this way, it gives a medical team the opportunity to showcase its compassion and commitment to patients’ well-being.
According to a post from Healthcare Advertising & Marketing Services, the Health Online 2013 survey from Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, about 81 percent of US adults use the Internet and 59 percent said they have looked online for health information in the past year. About 35 percent of US adults said they have gone online specifically to try to figure out what medical condition they or someone else might have.
Since the Internet should be taken with a grain of salt when it comes to diagnosing, health professionals need a strong social media presence to establish themselves as reputable sources as well as to properly point patients toward legitimate websites to be used as secondary sources. Above all, compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is paramount. The management of privacy issues, legal regulations and monitoring the quality of customer experience for hundreds of diseases and ailments must remain a top priority for medical practices.
Patients’ perceptions can either greatly help or significantly hinder a medical practice. The use of social media allows a firm to access instant and honest feedback from its “customers.” Consequently, physicians and their staff who utilize it have the ability to share positive patient experiences and praise as well as fix problems identified through negative patient experiences. Further social media has and continues to gain momentum in sharing medical information and providing patient care. Physicians continue to use this medium to establish a reputable presence among patients and peers. The marriage of health care and social media remains in the infancy stages as the healthcare consumer continues to gain strength in seeking reputable information about their provider, the practice and their diagnosis.
The likes of Facebook, Twitter and other social media outlets are filled with continued opportunities to enhance patient engagement and overall patient satisfaction. When incorporated appropriately, social media will help the healthcare industry practice two-way communication with its patients that will result in their expectations not only being met, but exceeded.
If you would like more information about RMS Healthcare, please contact our Director of Healthcare-Practice Transformation, Susan Maxsween at SusanM@RMSresults.com or by calling (315) 635-9802.