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Picking Up the Pace: Healthcare’s Evolution to Social Media

By Rik Silva, Client Services Director for HGS Digital

Take a look at the social media feeds of your favorite store or restaurant. For B2C brands, social media is, undoubtedly, a “where-it’s-at” customer service platform as much for networking or advertising as for engaging consumers with a personality and story that captures new customers and builds affinity. Now, imagine this same social care experience from your healthcare payer or provider. Why is this such an unlikely scenario?

Undoubtedly, healthcare has room to grow in providing a B2C-type social experience. And these organizations could use the help. Take, for example, the fact that there is a gap in perception between providers and consumers on the quality of experience currently being provided. In fact, a new report from the American Customer Satisfaction Index states that satisfaction in hospitals saw a major drop, making it one of the worst sectors measured.

Is it possible that healthcare’s slow move to B2C social care is at the heart of this dissatisfaction? Two market pivots show even greater urgency to a sharpened social media focus:

  • Digital natives—Millennials and Generation Z—expect and typically prefer digital customer experience (CX) channels, from chat and text to social care. The seamless integration of these features transforms traditional CXs into new, lasting, and meaningful connections with current and prospective customers. Recent research cites growing evidence that Facebook and online review sites such as Yelp are swiftly becoming healthcare consumers’ preferred sources for researching doctors, hospitals, medical laboratories, and other medical service providers. Simply put, the data indicates that a majority of Americans share their healthcare experiences publicly online following visits with providers. And they use this information to choose a provider as well. In fact, 80% of adults in the U.S. look for health information online, according to the Pew Research Center. Social media provides these customers the answers they need, providing a service while also establishing credibility in a public setting.
  • In 2017–2018, there were more than 200 mergers and acquisitions in healthcare, making it more challenging for independent health systems to acquire patients and increase share of voice in their market. Faced with the heightened prioritization of customer needs, experience, and value-stream impact, these merging health organizations are increasingly seeking strategic insights, optimization, and efficiencies to achieve a new volume-to-value operational focus. 

According to the 2019 State of Digital Marketing in Healthcare Report, by Greystone and Klein & Partners, only 22% of healthcare digital marketers are confident in using web and digital tools to attract new patients (down from 25% in 2015). Business process outsourcers (BPOs) and consultants can bring the latest process and technology innovation as well as customer care expertise required to meet the demands of today’s member/patients. These experts can also address duplication of effort resulting from consolidation and bring cost reduction and innovation while helping the payer/provider achieve their financial goals. HGS Digital has 18 years of experience in helping healthcare companies achieve better results digitally. We can help organizations with a complimentary one-hour Digital Maturity Assessment.

Author Info
Rik Silva
Rik Silva

Client Services Director for HGS Digital

Rik has over 12 years of experience in direct sales, business development and account management. He believes in a consultative and solution based approach to create value for his clients.