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Communication with the patient in social media in the medical industry
The medical industry is a vast sector of services, and practically all of us use it. It is also characterized by high competition and a wide range of activities. Let’s consider how we choose the right doctor, clinic, or package of medical services for ourselves or our family? First, we ask for the recommendation of the people closest to us, then we read opinions on the Internet, for example, on a famous doctor. Here, personal experience is much more important than in other industries *.
Crisis in the medical industry – what should you know?
When Dr. Google plays an important role in our lives, and medical knowledge is at our fingertips, each of us can be a “self-proclaimed” expert in this field. However, there are situations when we are forced to visit a doctor, and each such visit is a collection of experiences that shape the opinion about specific institutions and specialists. But let’s be honest – there are often negative situations, and those that are beyond our control: unpleasant service at the reception desk, delayed visits, long queues, carelessly performed service, both in the case of the National Health Fund, as well as private care.
Patients in the medical industry share their positive experiences much less often **, compared to customers of banks or stores. For this, they are willing to present a negative opinion, often expecting compensation for bad experiences. Of course, the best place for this type of conversation is social media channels. We have reviews at our disposal – on Facebook or Google Maps and posts that can be commented on – Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn.
In the beginning, it is worth considering what could be a crisis for our company because not all negative comments from patients are immediately a situation that can turn into a crisis.
So how do you recognize it? It is important to monitor social media channels and weekends, check every opinion, and refer to it, regardless of whether it concerns positive or negative aspects. Crises most often arise when a company fails to respond to a patient’s call for help. Lack of consent to get a prescription, delay of an appointment for an hour or its cancellation without prior notice, hospital food, unsatisfactory appointment are just a few examples that we know from our own experience that we would like to comment on in a wider group. That is why patients often look for a solution in social media instead of directly in the facility – here; their voice is a hundred times louder. One unfavorable comment is enough for several hundred other patients with similar thoughts to subscribe to it.
What should the medical facility do in this case? They should have an action plan prepared in advance to know the specificity of SM communication, how to participate in it, and when to take the role of a discussion leader. Then it’s downhill!
The next step is to check if the source of the crisis is real. Sometimes it happens that someone has misunderstood something, speaks on behalf of a friend, or just made the wrong place! Crises that are not the fault of the company also happen!
After researching, it is time for an official statement – referring to the topic, apologizing, explaining, or denying the rumor. Time is of the essence here, so it is worth taking your position as soon as possible. Otherwise, someone else will do it for us, not necessarily professionally and in our way.
Here is an example of how a pharmaceutical brand behaves in a crisis:
How to use social media?
Skillful use of SM channels allows you to build a positive and professional image of an expert – a medical facility or a doctor. It is also a great source of feedback from patients. Their complaints can and should be an impulse for us to make changes. Positive solutions will surely be praised and show that patients can count on us.
Remember that MS users are living people, so let’s treat them as we would like to be treated ourselves. We should also provide them with information useful for them and let them speak in an accessible language. Of course, an action strategy is important, and it is worth analyzing it just a few months after setting up a company account. We should check who is our target group:
- – are the majority of women or men?
- – how old are they?
This will allow even better adjustment of the content of the posts to our users. Maybe it is worth creating a cycle with an educational purpose? In this case, we will definitely need knowledge about the users.
It is also worth considering that at different ages, we suffer from various ailments, women suffer from diabetes and hypertension more often than men ***, people of reproductive age struggle with children’s diseases, and often look after their elderly parents.
Posts should match the seasons:
- In the spring, the allergy returns
- In summer, sunburn
- We catch colds more often in autumn and winter
What other tools to choose?
Social media should also be used to build a personal brand. Thanks to their experience and skills, many doctors win over patients who, thanks to their positive experiences, recommend their services to other people. If we want to increase popularity, it is worth getting involved in social media activities. It is a good practice to promote doctors by the institutions where they work. Company websites often have a larger reach than novice specialists. It is worth encouraging them to share their knowledge and consolidate their image with the help of published photos or recorded video guides.
The medical industry, constantly exposed to crises, is a big challenge for an agency that undertakes to communicate with patients. The basis for operating in such an industry is a well-prepared plan, including a crisis management plan. It will allow you to avoid the most embarrassing situations and alleviate those that require further steps. Contemporary communication with the patient in social media is about helping interested people and going into the future to exceed their expectations.
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