How to Engage With Patients on Social Media

As individuals spend more and more time online - interacting virtually, conducting transactions and seeking insights - the web emerges as the greatest stage for human interaction.

While online shopping has been on the rise for some years now, and consumer interaction on social media to log in their feedback, suggestions and reviews for services and products is taking the center stage.Recent reports suggest a steep rise in patients exploring social media to look up information about diseases, understand other patient experience with similar ailments and assess care delivery reputation of providers. A Demi and Cooper Advertising and D&C Interactive study states that 41% patients indicate that social media influences their choice of hospital.

Patient engagement gets priority focus

Little surprise then that social media has become a key patient engagement platform. Providers can instantly address queries, complaints or problems faced by patients and also devise an online redressal system. Further, social media engagement is vital in building a provider's reputation and brand image.

According to a Mayo clinic website around 27% hospitals in the US use social media to engage with patients. This number is expected to rise, as hospitals become Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) compliant and address privacy concerns.

Social media helps providers ensure:

  • Patients use less high-cost in-patient care and more of low-cost preventive and home care
  • Patients connect and engage with the hospital and its staff to develop an affinity towards the hospital/health system

How are hospitals leveraging social media?

Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare are the most preferred platforms among providers.

However, these are passive or reactive form of engagement. The growing usage of social media platforms, hospitals are now well positioned to proactively engage with patients.

Here are some pointers on how to use social media to proactively engage with patients:

  • Use location-sensing or Facebook and Foursquare check-ins to proactively communicate with the patients about their visit to the facility. Some examples of real-time messaging can be:
    • Direct patients to the facility using maps or navigation tools
    • Link the web form to capture patient registration details online
    • Give information on claim eligibility and co-pay using membership card details
    • Provide message with secure gateways for payments through a credit card
  • Providers can also engage with patients to:
    • Inform about delays in service delivery
    • Indicate expected wait time
    • Send link to feedback form for Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAPS) scoring/reporting
  • Schedule appointments using Twitter and tweet back to confirm the appointment
  • Use Twitter to request availability of a particular service at the facility

In today's intensely wired world, social media is integral to brand building, marketing and in furthering the business agenda. Syntel's provider clients have started leveraging our Digital One practice for their social media strategy. Our social media deployment tools enable providers to cater to new age social media and mobile engagement strategies.