Who do you ask before you decide on a doctor or a specialist? Typically, it’s a friend or a friend of a friend. As we become more mobile in where we live, it is becoming increasingly important to have a way of picking a doctor or a hospital wherever you may be.
On some level, most people and even most healthcare professionals understand it. But healthcare is still lagging in its ability to stay on top of what people are saying about their care and their institution across the web. When I typically approach a healthcare institution about listening to the conversations out there, the normal response is, “Well, we’re not engaged in Social Media right now. Maybe when we have a bit more traction on our Facebook page, you can come back and check in with us.” What is crazy about this is that people are already talking about healthcare in a very real way across the web. Whether or not the hospital or medical practioner is involved there is a presence. And, I think that most healthcare professionals recognize.
But there’s a disconnect. Why? I think it’s because medical professionals in general hate being a part of marketing. They do their job, and they do it well. If someone likes the job they did and wants to blog, tweet or post it on the Internet, then great. Unfortunately, this is not how things work in the real world. In the same way that consumer companies need to manage their social media reputation, I believe that hospitals and medical practioners need to follow suit.
Mentions in healthcare are more important than reviews in just about any other industry. If I see two bad reviews on Yelp!, I will still end up going (and probably will love the food). If I see even one well written bad review about a hospital or doctor, you can be sure I will look somewhere else. Reputation is everything in healthcare, and it’s important to be engaged, active and with your ear to the ground.