Hospitals Now Focus on Patient Experience and Reputation Management

Patient experience and reputation management now priorities for healthcare facilities

Laura Markowski used to worry every time a text alerted her that a patient had posted a negative review online of a doctor at her health-care system.

She’s in charge of “reputation management” at a group of hospitals and clinics in Virginia, and it’s her job to monitor complaints about rudeness, long waits, lack of face time with a doctor or something more serious.

But after several months of reviewing comments in real time on nearly a dozen Web sites, including Healthgrades.com, ZocDoc.com and Google Plus, as well as Facebook and Twitter, she’s calmer.

Most reviews have been “one-offs for different physicians,” she said, not focused on just one doctor or group practice that would raise a red flag.

Patient experience and reputation management

Markowski is part of a new and urgent effort by hospitals and health systems to track and control their online reputations. As out-of-pocket costs for health care have risen, people are increasingly shopping for their medical care and comparing reviews. And younger consumers who have grown up on Yelp and Rate My Professors expect the same seamless, digital experience with health care that they have used in other aspects of their lives.

Patient satisfaction, long ignored by the health-care industry, is a strategic priority for another simple reason: It’s playing a more important role in determining how the federal government pays hospitals. In the last three years the government has been taking into account patient satisfaction data when determining how much to reimburse hospitals for Medicare patients.

But putting hospitals and doctors into the online rating world is fraught with possible problems. For one, patients and doctors have widely differing expectations.

When patients are asked to rate how doctor quality should be measured, clinical outcomes, such as getting cured of a disease, rarely come up, said Lisa Suennen, who advises health-care companies. Patients talk about whether a doctor or nurse was kind to them, or whether their experience was fast and convenient. It’s assumed that the doctor is going to treat their illness or condition.

Physicians, on the other hand, go straight to the clinical. The cancer is gone. Or the person can walk again. “They don’t even talk about the other stuff,” Suennen said. The two groups “are really disconnected.”

Physicians are not eager to be rated like restaurants. It’s hard for them to wrap their minds around the process, because taking care of patients is exceptionally complex, said Adrienne Boissy, the chief experience officer at the Cleveland Clinic.

“We don’t have consumers, we have patients,” she said. “Health care isn’t necessarily like shopping at Target.”

And some experts fear that the focus is more on burnishing the online reputations of doctors and hospitals than improving delivery of care.

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HIPAA Often Misinterpreted

HIPAA mythsIntended to keep personal health information private, the law does not prohibit health care providers from sharing information with family, friends or caregivers unless the patient specifically objects. Even if he or she is not present or is incapacitated, providers may use “professional judgment” to disclose pertinent information to a relative or friend if it’s “in the best interests of the individual.”

Hipaa applies only to health care providers, health insurers, clearinghouses that manage and store health data, and their business associates. Yet when I last wrote about this topic, a California reader commented that she’d heard a minister explain that the names of ailing parishioners could no longer appear in the church bulletin because of Hipaa.

Wrong. Neither a church nor a distraught spouse is a “covered entity” under the law.

Last month, Representative Doris Matsui, Democrat of California and co-chairwoman of the Democratic Caucus Seniors Task Force, who has heard similar complaints from constituents, introduced legislation to clarify who can divulge what and under what circumstances. The proposed bill would require the Department of Health and Human Services, which last year issued new Hipaa “guidance,” to make that statement part of its regulations and to create model training programs for providers and administrators, patients and families.

“A lot of times it’s just misunderstanding what is and isn’t allowed under Hipaa,” Representative Matsui said in an interview.

So, what is and isn’t?

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FTC Social Media Endorsements Guidelines

FTC endorsements guidelinesEndorsements and reviews are big in social media, they can be effective decision making tools for consumers if they are truthful.  the FTC published endorsement guidelines to help brands and businesses stay out of trouble

Suppose you meet someone who tells you about a great new product. She tells you it performs wonderfully and offers fantastic new features that nobody else has. Would that recommendation factor into your decision to buy the product? Probably.

Now suppose the person works for the company that sells the product – or has been paid by the company to tout the product. Would you want to know that when you’re evaluating the endorser’s glowing recommendation? You bet. That common-sense premise is at the heart of the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Endorsement Guides.

The Guides, at their core, reflect the basic truth-in-advertising principle that endorsements must be honest and not misleading. An endorsement must reflect the honest opinion of the endorser and can’t be used to make a claim that the product’s marketer couldn’t legally make. Continue reading

Social Media Guidance For Physicians

Social Media Guidance For PhysiciansLack of social media guidance for physicians

Professionals in healthcare have been slow to embrace social media and one of the reasons is the lack of social media guidance for physicians.  Physicians face a number of issues related to compliance (HIPAA and in some cases FDA), maintaining trust in the patient/physician relationship and the integrity of the profession

Professional associations steps in

In some cases, professional associations, concerned with the potential negative impact of social media  on the profession at large, have tried to fill the gap and issued guidance.

One of these associations, the American College of Physicians offers physicians a set of social media guidance to explain the pros and cons of social media as well as issue recommendations and safeguards for the proper use of social media

The goal of the recommendations being to preserve the trust in the patient/physician relationship and the integrity of the profession.

Recommendations and guidelines Continue reading

FDA Cracking Down on Facebook Marketing

FDA craking down on FacebookThe FDA cracking down on Facebook marketing is a clear signal that companies have to treat Facebook the same way they would treat any other media they use in their communication with the public

In the past 6 months the FDA has issued 6 warning letters mostly for unapproved claims but when it comes to unapproved claims social media creates a unique challenge for companies in the healthcare industry at large (that includes manufacturers and distributors of supplements and other products not usually considered drugs or medical devices but could be construed as related to health) in that comments posted by third parties can also be construed as claims and the simple fact of liking a comment constitutes an endorsement of the claim by the owner of the page Continue reading

What Worries Compliance Officers?

what worries complaince officersWhen it comes to regulated markets, compliance is a major issue, especially when it comes to social media, it worries compliance officers and has held back the use of social media in regulated markets.

So, what keeps compliance officers up at night and what do they do about it.

In short, anything posted on social media is amplified and can have an impact on the brand and the reputation and once the cat is out of the box, getting it back in the box is rather difficult.

As Warren Buffet said:“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.”

Of course, there are ways to mitigate risk. For one thing, a social media policy explaining who can post on social media sites, how they post and what they can or cannot say, what requires compliance approval before posting.  Yous social media policy should also define the steps to follow in case of crisis

The other challenge is what employees post about the company on their personal social media accounts.  Their post can be perceived as representing the views of the companies and can have an impact on the company reputation and/or have repercussions from the regulatory authorities

What makes it even more challenging is that be it in healthcare or financial services there are no set social media rules.  The regulatory authorities (FDA, FINRA, SEC, OCC and others) have not created a framework to regulate social media, they have only issued guidance on how to apply traditional communication with the public regulations to the electronic era and social media. The guidance seems to be a lot clearer though in the financial markets; in the medical market, the FDA is still going back and forth and the guidance can be confusing at best.

In addition, social media platforms are diverse and so are the posting modes and the number of character allowed creating challenges especially when it comes to disclosures.

Read more about what keeps compliance officers awake in financial services.

Six Ways To Detect Fake LinkedIn Profiles

How_to_detect_a_fake_LinkedIn_profileBefore we look at the six ways to detect fake LinkedIn profiles, it’s important to understand the driving force behind these profiles and the main reason is spamming.

Spamming has been around for a long time, first via email and as blogs started proliferating, spammers started polluting blogs, it was only a question of time before they  started polluting social media platforms

Coming back to LinkedIn, two of the best way to get maximum exposure on LinkedIn are growing your network or participating in large, active discussion groups.  Both imply creating a profile and since spammers learn early on that to effectively spam, they needed many identities, in case they were filtered out.

Over the past few years, we have seen a rapid increase in the number of fake profiles created by spammers either joining discussion groups or asking to join users networks, they usually target large active discussion groups and/or users with large networks, especially LIONs (LinkedIn Open Networkers) who are not too selective in growing their network and allow spammers to develop their network based on first and second degree connections.

Of course, there are a number of ways to stop them, the first one is to be selective in who you accept in your network, the second is for group owners to be more proactive in monitoring who joins their groups and to not fall into the temptation to grow the size of their group at the expense of the quality of the discussion. Continue reading