It can be a challenge for a healthcare marketer to maintain a balance between the public world of social customer care and the private world of patient care. Doctors and other healthcare providers need social media practices that engage and inform patients — and also protect their privacy.
Although healthcare marketers are wise to follow the lead of corporations in other industries by entering the social media arena, the stakes are higher. Restrictions posed by Protected Health Information (PHI) and HIPAA put providers and health systems at risk, as mistakes can lead to serious consequences — from a damaged reputation to a license revocation.
Here are some poor social customer service examples healthcare organizations sometimes make:
Unintentionally Disclosing PHI on Social Media
Unauthorized disclosure of patient information is a HIPAA violation. Healthcare providers should never share any statements, content, information, photos or images that in any way betray patient confidentiality.
But what happens when a patient initiates the conversation and shares their information on a hospital’s social media page? Say a patient’s post includes a photo of a hospital visit or details about their medical diagnosis. What should you do?
Neglecting to respond would be a mistake — it’s important to engage with patients to create trust and loyalty. But if the hospital’s marketing staff acknowledges the customer feedback, they risk violating privacy laws, depending on what they say in their response.
Your responses to reviews or social media comments — whether positive or negative — must comply with HIPAA privacy regulations. To reduce risk, your team should make an appropriate social media strategy for healthcare that includes templates with appropriate language that comply with regulations.
Arguing with Unhappy Patients Online
If negative posts on social media surface, providers may be tempted to argue with the reviewer. But getting defensive is never a good idea.
Online arguments, no matter who’s right or who’s wrong, are especially dangerous for a healthcare company. When you find yourself always responding to social media comments, the risk of patient alienation and privacy violation escalates.
When a patient unhappy with care airs a concern or complaint on social media, respond immediately in a HIPAA-compliant manner — but offline. Invite the patient to contact you directly via phone, and offer to discuss the issue privately with the patient.
Ignoring or Deleting Negative Comments on Social Media
Although it seems counterintuitive, an occasional bad comment adds credibility to the positive ones, and leaving them for everyone to see builds trust with your audience. If all of your comments are positive, consumers may suspect they’re fake or planted.
What’s more, if you ignore negative comments, you run the risk of letting others shape your reputation. The role of social media in customer service is a critical one, as it can influence how people perceive your organization and the quality of care it provides.
Responding quickly and appropriately to negative comments presents opportunities for organizations to shine. By approaching each comment with sensitivity and understanding, a provider demonstrates its commitment to patient care and satisfaction. If a patient complains about a provider on a social page, don’t ignore it and don’t delete it, unless it includes profanity or slander.
Engaging With Your Social Media Followers Sporadically
Scared off by patient privacy concerns or unsure of the benefits of a robust social media presence, some healthcare organizations may only share content occasionally or inconsistently. But ongoing and frequent engagement helps build trust with patients — while also driving website traffic and improving SEO.
By acting as a trusted source of relevant healthcare information, you’re demonstrating your commitment to your patients and the community and helping to improve the overall patient experience.
Using the Wrong Social Media Marketing Management Tool
Not all social media marketing management solutions are equal, so it’s important for you to select the best social media management software. Many tools lack central repositories for approved content, increasing the chances of posted content violating regulations or brand policies. These tools don’t cater to the needs of large, multi-location healthcare organizations, and approval workflows can be complex leading to miscommunication and an additional risk of non-compliance. Avoid these mistakes by keeping an eye out for the best social media management tools in 2021.
If they aren’t the best software for social media marketing, they may lack the analytics and reporting necessary to understand and act on patient feedback from various other sources, such as online reviews and patient satisfaction surveys, and combine it with social listening data for a complete picture of patient sentiment. To cover all the bases, many health systems try implementing numerous point solutions, which leads to higher costs and management headaches.
Take Control of Your Online Reputation Management
Patients will talk about you online, and being part of the conversation is critical to maintaining brand integrity and minimizing risk. But without a 360-degree view into all sources of feedback— and a social platform optimized for multi-site social management — you put your brand and your organization at risk — and could be missing out on the opportunities afforded by a well-executed strategy and top-tier social media marketing management software solution.
Find out how Reputation’s Social Media Suite can help you take control of your online reputation.