The mobile phone can be mightier than the sword
This article is part 2 in a 3 part series regarding social media risk and strategy for health care professionals.
- Part 1: Why doctors need to take reputation management seriously
- Part 2: The mobile phone can be mightier than the sword
- Part 3: Implementing an effective healthcare reputation management strategy
People have always had both positive and negative experiences with their health care providers. The difference now is there are so many ways to express those feelings to a very large audience instantaneously. In part 1 of this series, I demonstrated how Twitter has now been integrated into the search results of major search engines. The examples provided in that article were tweets that complained about a specific doctor or clinic.
The images contained in this article are also captures of individual tweets I quickly uncovered by using the Twitter search function at Bing.com. Since I originally collected these examples, Google has launched their own Twitter search which is displayed in their standard search results. While the tweets I have included here do not name specific health care providers, they are particularly negative and help to further demonstrate how patients are willing to publicly vent their frustrations.
How social media is changing the way people complain:
Telling others about a negative experience has been around as long as basic communication. Before the Internet existed, people voiced their frustrations by word of mouth or in letters. However, the Internet has created a whole new world for those wishing to complain. In fact, countless websites have been created to give folks a platform for documenting these grievances. Search engines then archive these grievances where they can be accessed in the future by other Internet users.
The recent wide acceptance of social media has given people a way to communicate what is going on in their lives regularly. This alone is a dramatic shift that has given users both a voice and an audience of their peers. Now that nearly all social media sites can be accessed via mobile phones in some capacity we are living in a world where you can immediately broadcast displeasure to large numbers of people “in the moment”.
Why health care providers should understand the shift to the mobile web:
Health care providers need to be aware that consumers can now easily update their social media accounts from a mobile phone. As a patient sits in a waiting room, exam room, hospital bed or parking lot they can communicate displeasure to a wide audience. Don’t forget to consider they can also append pictures and video to their status updates.
This communication shift means that someone having a negative health care experience may not allow themselves to calm down before voicing their frustrations. There is no time buffer for a patient to contemplate and evaluate whether they may be overreacting. Now more than ever, patient care needs to address more than just their health and well-being. It also needs to address the patient experience.
How this may change the way patients are handled:
It’s fair to say that doctors are constantly being evaluated by their patients – as they should be. Patients are more informed (sometimes misinformed) than ever before and their expectations for their doctors or other medical providers have grown over time. The days of patients blindly assuming that their doctor is correct in approach or diagnosis are fading fast.
Therefore, health care professionals need to consider new strategies for how to communicate, care for and service this new breed of patient. Creating positive, patient-centric experiences goes a long way in providing customer service in health care. This means providers should evaluate the process patients go through during a typical appointment.
Is the waiting room relaxing? Is it sufficient in size? Do you have the right employees handling the patient process? When a patient is frustrated or upset, is there a procedure to escalate and address the issue in a timely manner?
Some mobile phone statistics you should know:
- As of September, 2009 Facebook reported 65,000,000 monthly mobile users – Forrester
- Smartphones are expected to make up 30% of the global wireless market by 2014 – mobi Thinking
- 75% of all U.S. mobile web traffic comes from iPhone OS and Android OS phones – Tech Crunch
- iPhone OS, Android OS, Symbiam OS, RIM OS, webOS, Windows Mobile and Palm OS (the smart phone operating systems) all have available applications for accessing Twitter and Facebook.
- The number of mobile phone users accessing their social media accounts monthly has doubled since January, 2009 – Marketing Pilgrim
Patients often have an emotional response to their health or the health of their loved ones. This issue creates a unique service challenge for health care providers when you consider the implications of an increasingly mobile web. While there are variety of solutions to make the patient experience better, my particular area of expertise is developing sound reputation management practices. Even excellent customer service won’t please everyone.
In part 3 of this series, I will give a detailed overview on what steps doctors and other health care providers can take in order to effectively manage their reputations online. Mitigating potential reputation problems is best achieved by implementing a strategy before the problem exists.