Healthcare providers may no longer have a choice in whether to participate in the social media due to the immense number of online users. Establishing your online presence is the first step, however, maintaining and monitoring your online reputation is just as important. There lurks a possibility of a patient posting a damaging comment.
Social media empowers the complainer and provides the platform to speak out. This puts the “complainee” on the defensive – the healthcare providers. There are two important things that healthcare providers can do to fight back: ENGAGE and MONITOR.
The first line of defense is to engage. Providers should post on their own Facebook page and other social platforms and make their own case with their fans. This can counterbalance any negative comments and establish the provider as a reputable person. In addition to proactively engaging, providers should also monitor the various social media areas – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Yelp – for any mention or negative comments about the practice or the provider. There are ways to do this without being overwhelmed. Providers could delegate this task either internally to one of their personnel or outsource to save time and money. Outsourcing a non-clinical task would be considered an “opportunity cost” since the time saved could be spent on taking care of patients – the source of revenue.
There are ways to avoid negative outbursts before they get online. Providers should always take the time to listen to patients and repeat back in their own words their own comments, concerns or questions. Although, patients may still choose to write a negative post online, the act of listening and repeating back, decreases the chances of a patient raising a concern online.
In case of a negative post, providers could use following brief guidelines:
- Providers should not attempt to publicly respond or refute the claim on the website. Even if a patient divulges private information, his or her disclosure does not protect providers from violating the patient’s privacy rights if or when providers reply. Even if a statement is true like “Jane Doe never pays her bills on time” it is still a breach of patient confidentiality to make such a public statement.
- In case of a negative post about a provider, providers should check the website if there is a written policy or protocol for removal of potentially libelous postings. Then, they should follow their process to remove the negative information.
- When and if providers determine who posted the negative comments, providers should review the chart documents to find out more information on the person who posted the comments.
- In addition to the above pointers, providers should consult with their legal counsel to determine what type of resource may be available.
PractiCons offers web-reputation monitoring services. We monitor the web for any negative comments or feedback for our clients and immediately alert them about our findings.