Time to embrace social media—or pay the cost

It’s often difficult for hospitals to determine the quality of care a patient received during a hospital stay. While doctors tend to gauge success by whether or not a patient was cured, the patient experience oftentimes goes well beyond mere medical diagnosis. 1,2,3

social-media_thumb HCAHPS—a survey that determines Medicare funding based on patient rated categories such as cleanliness, communication and pain management—has ensured that it’s now important to be aware of the quality behind a variety of patient services. 3

Social media, and it’s endless stream of quick responses and unfiltered feedback, gives hospitals an opportunity to track in real time what its patients think of the very same issues reviewed on the survey.

Since 57% of patients express a desire to connect with hospitals online, it is crucial to establish a strong social media presence in order to ensure patient satisfaction. 4 Keep in mind, though, it’s still important to do social right.

81% of patients indicate a social media presence can illustrate a hospital’s ability to innovate, but only if the hospital listens, responds and engages effectively while online. 4

In order to guarantee success on social platforms, make sure that your marketing approach is rooted in a strong strategy and that you’re following some best practices.

Establish the same tone of medical professionalism 3, 4

  • Craft social responses that respond to people with care and compassion. For instance, respond to patient complaints with concern and patient praise with gratitude
  • Keep private info private and respect confidentiality
  • Be encouraging

Track trends to assess the bigger picture 4

  • If you are seeing consistent issues, have a plan in place to address them 4
  • Post both good and negative feedback to establish a sense of what you’re doing right and what you could improve on. 7
  • Track wider healthcare trends through social platforms like Twitter, in order to keep up-to-date with the latest in patient satisfaction developments 4, 7

Share content that engages your audience 4

  • Take pictures of clean rooms 4
  • Post about your hospitals individual causes and beliefs—processes like sustainability, hygiene and hand-washing practices that your hospital believes in 7
  • Write messages that tap into your audience’s interests 7

Post regularly and keep them engaged 4

  • Post at least every other day so your hospital stays top of mind 7
  • Make sure you’re promoting others’ posts and commenting 7
  • Respond in real time effectively 8


  1. Hit Consultant. (2015, June 30). Survey: Yelp Most Popular Site For Online for Physician Reviews.
    Retrieved from: http://hitconsultant.net/2014/11/18/yelp-dominates-online-physician-reviews/
  2. Venture Beat. (2015) April 8. Why ZocDoc is winning: Dissenting employees, unlimited vacation, & Diet Coke
    Retrieved from: http://venturebeat.com/2013/04/08/why-zocdoc-is-winning/
  3. The Washington Post. (2015, June 19) How Hospitals Hope to Boost ratings on Yelp, HealthGrades, Zocdoc and Vitals.
    Retrieved from: http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/sites-like-yelp-can-be-tough-but-hospitals-embrace-online-reviews/2015/06/03/a07a68b6-fe63-11e4-805c-c3f407e5a9e9_story.html
  4. PRSA Perspectives.
    Retrieved from: http://www.prsacentralohio.org/dont-judge-a-hospital-by-its-facebook/
  5. Health Leaders Media. (2015, June 30) Five Tips to Guide your Hospital’s Social Media Policy.
    Retrieved from: http://healthleadersmedia.com/content.cfm?topic=tec&content_id=250829
  6. National Library of Medicine National Institute of Health. (2015, June 30). Empowering Patients Through Social Media: Benefits and Challenges.
    Retrieved from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24550564
  7. Best Practices for Hospitals on Facebook.
    Retrieved from: http://www.slideshare.net/ahamediagroup/hospitals-and-facebook-v12
  8. National Library of Medicine National Institute of Health. (2015, June 30). Social Media and the Surgeon.
    Retrieved from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3699141/
  9. National Library of Medicine National Institute of Health. (2015, June 30). Social Media and Health Care Professionals: Benefits, Risks, and Best Practices.
    Retrieved from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4103576/