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Filtering by Category: Medical Practice Management

Two Social Media Outcomes Practice Managers Are Excited About


Savannah GAPractice managers usually aren’t too excited to see me coming. Social media is one more task and one more risk on an overflowing plate. So I was thrilled to sit down with some practice managers and hear about the social media outcomes they were excited about: collecting actionable information about patient dissatisfaction and collecting positive patient stories that improve employee engagement. The setting was the Tri-State Healthcare Management Conference in Savannah, GA last week. Medical managers from North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia gathered together to share best practices in coping with the drastic changes affecting practice management. For three days we learned together, ate together, and partied together. This is what I heard from these leaders in the practice management profession:

Being able to get actionable information from dissatisfied patients was a key value they got from social media. Aside from patient satisfaction scores and liability risks of unsatisfied patients, customer satisfaction is an outcome dear to most practice managers' hearts. Managers who reported getting information they could use to solve a patient satisfaction issue reported having two things on their side: 1) The practice had a monitored social media presence where patients could freely express themselves directly to the practice. The social media manager escalated satisfaction issues for resolution. 2) The practice had staff on social media who trusted them enough to resolve issues that they would report dissatisfaction complaints they saw in their own social media networks.

Practice managers were also excited that social media could elevate employee engagement. Healthcare employee dissatisfaction is high in the current environment. This dissatisfaction creates a stressful office environment that patients can feel- lower employee engagement directly relates to lower patient satisfaction and worse patient outcomes. Providing a portal for patients to waive their HIPAA privacy protections and tell their own stories increases employee engagement. It brings those positive experiences back to the office, including back office staff who may be particularly disconnected from the positive outcomes generated by the practice.

Obtaining these social media benefits requires investing in monitored social media and content management and in employee training that turns every employee into a social media asset for the practice.

Get social media training for your health care employees.


If your medical practice doesn’t engage in social media, it might be because what I’m about to show you is your worst nightmare. Health care workers tend to use health care key words when they post inappropriate material, "I'm not sure if this violates HIPAA but" is a very popular intro to a HIPAA violation. This assures that the materials shows up in streams commonly followed by other health care professionals and advocacy groups. For example this Twitter post and subsequent discussion was visible in keyword streams for "HIPAA" and "Medicare."

HIPAAviolationornot followup blurred CRP

Have you given your staff any training in social media? Not just telling them about HIPAA confidentiality standards, but explaining to them what kind of public behavior standards you expect and demonstrating exactly how to meet those expectations. Do you have a written social media policy that benchmarks those standards for any necessary employee discipline? Despite the fact that Millennials are digital natives, most of them have received zero social media training in high school or college. [1] If you want to avoid a situation like this, you will schedule a social media training session for your staff.

The possible HIPAA violation (it took me less than five minutes to find a name for this patient) might be the least of your worries. One of these young men posts highly vulgar text and photos using race and gender terms that are generally considered highly offensive by the Silent & Baby Boomer generations being served. The most vulgar of the two may not even be an employee of the same practice, but does it matter when he's part of a conversation like this? Long before this post the social media risk was already clear. Don’t be the last to know if this is the kind of thing representing your practice online.

You need to train your employees. Talk to them about how they can align their social media use with their own life and career goals. Talk to them about how their associates reflect on them. Make your social media policy public- post it on your website. Your social media policy provides context for patients when they see social media posts from your staff. Do you consider their personal social media use to not represent your practice in any way? Make that clear to your employees and your patients. You also likely need to know more about the social media use of your employees than you do now, but you must have a written policy to assure you do not violate your employees' legally protect rights.

CRP provides social media training for health care and life science companies. We also provide training to individuals, including young adults, as part of the Profile Proud Alliance.

1. Holmes, R. (2014 APR 15). 5 social media skills millennials lack. HootSuite Blog.

You Can't Tweet Like the Mayo Clinic Can Tweet


Twitter feed from Mayo Clinic on #grapefruit.In 2013 the Mayo Clinic periodically posted a joke about the grapefruit diet.  On the days of the post, they owned "grapefruit" on Twitter.  If you looked for "grapefruit" what you got was the Mayo Clinic. The Mayo Clinic has more than a half million followers on Twitter: they can capture any keyword they want. (Click the post list to get a full-size view.)

Your small private practice can not do that.  If you have a few hundred or a few thousand followers, you must select keywords more strategically.  When the Mayo Clinic captured "grapefruit" on a lark, they only owned it for about a day.  They are big enough to own a different hashtag every day.  You need to be influential on your target hashtags for longer than that.

If you are in health care, go to the Healthcare Hashtag Project and look up the key words for your topic.  Once you find the hashtags for your topic, see how many tweets a day the topic gets and how many times a day the most influential people tweet. You have to use the hashtag for your core competency in posts, but if it is a highly used hashtag look for another hashtag where you can have a larger influence.

If you aren't in healthcare and no one is keeping a website of hashtag metrics for your industry, just start looking up words that make sense.  Those words will connect you to established hashtags. Also look in, a tool that helps you find related hashtags.

Another technique is to create your own hashtag.  Interestingly, #grapefruitdiet wasn't used on Twitter at that time- if it had been, Mayo couldn't have stolen it from the existing audience without a backlash.  However, Mayo could have chosen to create the hashtag at that time and continued to cultivate it as a sales channel.

Remember that if a lot of companies are already targeting the most obvious hashtag, it might not give you the best results.  Include less crowded hashtags where you can have a larger impact on the conversation.


Originally posted by Mary K.D. D’Rozario on the CRP Blog.

Police department horror story illustrates why your practice needs text messaging.


Recently a practice manager expressed a frustration about her staff.  They were using their personal phones to text message with patients about appointment scheduling.  No matter how many times she told them to stop, they wouldn't listen. Meanwhile, she wasn't listening to the message her patients were giving: they wanted to be able to schedule their appointments via text messaging. The practice had not provided any way to do this, so the staff were going behind her back to make the patients happy.  The good news is that this is solvable.  The bad news is that it needs to be solved quickly for all of the obvious HIPAA and legal protection reasons, as well as the simple factor of providing one clear professional voice from the practice to the public.

A recent example from law enforcement provides a compelling image of why a medical practice needs to control their own communication:

When 30- year-old Ricky Lamb died, Clayton County Police Department detectives were unable to locate his mother.  One detective eventually sent her a message on Facebook from his personal account to notify her of the death, as reported on Today.  Because the detective had no relationship with the mother in Facebook, the message went to the infamous "other" folder.

When the mother did see the message she showed it to her daughter.  The message came from account with an image of rapper TI as the profile picture, so they didn't think it could possibly be serious.  It was only when Mr. Lamb continued to be missing that his mother called the phone number on the unprofessional Facebook profile.

Now there were some other problems here, like why the police could not find a woman who lived such a stable life that she had had the same job for more than a decade. But the Clayton County Police Department has learned some lessons. They have realized that they need to take control of how their staff communicates with the public and they are going to set up their own Facebook page and their own social media review policies.

Your staff is more likely to use their personal phone to text message a patient than their personal Facebook, so the medical application of this story is on text messaging.

A New York Times article from last year provides some great examples of pediatricians using texting and social media to connect with their patients.  Several solutions exist to access text messaging via a computer workstation and logging text messages. Clinical Research Performance, Inc. can work with your practice or research program to assist in developing your texting solution.  Give us a call at 919-890-5513.

--- Originally posted by Mary D'Rozario on the CRP Blog. Photo by hugovk used under Creative Commons licence.