I read an interesting article on April 27, 2018, “Providers jittery over the ‘Yelpification’ of healthcare”, Tony Abraham, Healthcare Dive from the Manhattan Institute report, “Yelp for Health”. The striking part of the report is that consumer Yelp reviews and other text-based reviews correlate with Medicare consumer surveys. Oh, oh.
We all know that consumers are increasingly turning to social media to find and select healthcare providers. Why is that such a surprise?
Now that the horse is out of the barn and not going back anytime soon, what is the hospital to do?
It’s time to stop having the yips or jitters over patients and consumers using Yelp and other social media channels. It’s now time to respond strategically and tactically from a marketing perspective.
You must get over it organizationally and stop believing your press releases about how great you are. The yips and jitters come from inaction and refusal to accept the reality of the market driven by the growing consumer dominance of healthcare. Consumers desire actionable information and transparency. If you are not going to give them either, then the healthcare consumer will create their version based on their experience for others to learn. You reap what you sow. And the silence from the hospital is deafening to the consumer. Silence is acceptance and acquiescence on the part of the hospital reinforcing for the consumer that it must be true.
Yul Benner as Rameses in the movie 10 Commandments says it best, “So let it be written. So let it be done.”
What to do?
The time for the yips, jitters, and silence on the ‘Yelpification’ of healthcare has passed. It is now time to accept the reality of consumer reviews and treat them like the survival of the hospital and health system depends on them. After all, the healthcare consumer knows one only needs three services from the hospital or health system, emergency care, intensive care and care for acute complex medical conditions. Period.
It comes down to the following key factors.
1. Know the audience. Know the markets. Know what information the healthcare consumer is searching out. Know what social media platforms they use to gather information and engage.
2. Build a social media response plan and a proactive social media content plan integrated into the overall marketing plan and strategy for the hospital or health system. Include in your plan, goals and objectives, key messages, engagement strategies. How it will be measured and evaluated and who is responsible for executing the plan. What gets measured gets done.
3. Monitor, monitor and monitor some more the social media channels where consumers are posting reviews on the hospital, health systems, and physicians.
4. Engage and build a meaningful relationship with the healthcare consumer. Stay away from meaningless fluff and anything that looks like it’s all about the organization. And listen. Listen very carefully to social media and respond accordingly.
5. Allocate the resources for someone to do this full time all the time. Don’t say the hospital doesn’t have it. Reallocate the marketing budget to social media from more traditional areas.
6. Invest in staff training on social media, identifying the skills sets that may be lacking and if need be, hire from the outside. Experience counts as the healthcare enterprise does not have the time for trial and error.
7. Budget is marketing IT resources and systems for measurement, automation and reporting on social media channels and activities.
There you have it. The beginnings of a strategy and tactical execution plan to meet the healthcare consumer on their terms on their ground.
Or, you can have the yips and jitters about the ‘Yelpification’ of healthcare, feeling sorry for yourself while all around you the healthcare consumer burns and takes you to the ash heap of history.
Michael is a healthcare business, marketing, communications strategist and thought-leader. As an internationally followed healthcare strategy blogger, his blog, Healthcare Marketing Matters is read in 52 countries and listed on the 100 Top Healthcare Marketing Blogs, and Websites ranked at No. 3 on the list by Feedspot.com. Michael is a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives, Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association. As an expert in digital marketing & social media with a Klout score of 64, Michael is in the top 10 percent of social media experts nationwide. Michael is an established influencer and inquires for strategic consulting engagements can be made by calling 815-351-0671. Opinions expressed are my own.
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