Healthcare consumers can instantly influence others through online reviews and social media, so it’s imperative that hospitals consider their patients’ perception of care to improve patient satisfaction, increase HCAHPS scores, and build a positive reputation within the community.
Though your hospital may strive for five-star service, low ratings and negative reviews will sometimes occur. Despite that fact, it's in your best interest to go the extra mile to foster patient trust and earn patient loyalty over the long-term.
To determine what steps to take in improving patient (and employee) satisfaction and your community reputation, you must first know where to begin. Here's a five-step plan for evaluating your reputation that can help drive more positive reviews and increase engagement online:
1. Start by gathering information
There are a variety of ways to gather information and measure patient satisfaction: HCAHPS surveys, focus groups, and telephone surveys.
Getting a fix on your reputation with the community requires a different approach, however. Since the internet is often the first place consumers look for information, it makes sense to use reputation monitoring tools, such as Google Alerts, PatientPop, and Brandwatch, social listening platforms, like Hootsuite or Twitter, and customer review services, such as Reputation Health.
Customer reviews are particularly important. A 2017 Local Consumer Review Survey by Bright Local found that out of 26 industries, healthcare was the third most popular for consumers to read reviews, surpassed only by restaurants and hotels.
That's not to suggest you need all of these tools—many overlap with regard to functionality—but you should have at least a minimal reputation monitoring and social listening toolset in place to be most effective.
2. Know how your community perceives you
As you gather information, begin evaluating the data to learn what is being said and the sentiment—whether positive, negative, or neutral—as that serves as a barometer for how to respond. (Tools like Brandwatch and Hootsuite can help as they contain components for gauging consumer sentiment.)
3. Learn what your employees think of you
Just as it is essential to know how your patients and community perceive you, it is equally important to learn what your employees think.
After all, who is in a better position than your staff to influence the patients’, families’, and community’s perception of your hospital and the care it provides? If physician satisfaction or hospital staff satisfaction levels aren't high, how do you expect to improve the healthcare experience or hospital customer service?
That's where platforms like Glassdoor can be an asset. Employees can post reviews anonymously to increase transparency regarding their attitudes about hospital management, salaries and benefits, working conditions, hospital culture, and much more.
4. Take inventory of what you’re currently doing
Once your finger is on the pulse of your reputation, ask the following questions:
- Are you engaging with reviews? If so, in what ways?
- How are you managing social media interactions?
- What channels are you using to tell your story? (e.g., paid ads, social media, a blog, your website, etc.)
- What types of information are you sharing with employees and the public?
Do you have a crisis communication plan in place?
5. Create action plans based on what you find
Consider these questions when creating a patient satisfaction and hospital reputation action plan:
- What are people asking for that you can fulfill?
- How will you handle requests for things that you can’t change?
- How do you plan to respond to negative reviews and comments?
- What steps will you take to improve employee and patient experience?
- How can you use online platforms effectively to educate and inform your community?
When you’re ready to start answering these questions and developing your comprehensive plan, use this SCP resource to guide your process: 6 Tips for Developing Your Online Reputation Management Plan.