Like many healthcare organizations, Nicklaus Children’s Hospital has long asked discharged patients to complete the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare, which enables providers to measure patients’ perspectives of their care.

But that’s only one measure of patient feedback—now, they’re increasingly talking about their experiences in online reviews, says Robert Prieto, web marketing manager.

The hospital’s marketing department took notice, and it started to manually collect online reviews posted by patients, but that took too much time. The search process involved setting up keywords, locations, physicians by name and certain terms, and scraping the Internet to find mentions.

So, the hospital, part of Miami Children’s Health System, started assessing reputation management software. After conducting several pilot tests and working with a digital social media agency in Chicago, it settled on ReviewTrackers, an application from a vendor that enables organizations to monitor social media mentions of provider organizations and individual physicians.

The application enables Prieto to know what patients are saying about Nicklaus Children’s and to respond in a timely manner to any concerns a patient has.

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Now, the hospital receives daily real-time reports on social media mentions and distributes the reports to office managers; monthly reports going to administrators.

In general, the hospital doesn’t want physicians spending time replying to patients so the physicians are made aware of patient mentions but responding to patients is handled by the guest relations department. The key, Prieto says, is to make sure patients know that the hospital heard their concerns and listened.

ReviewTrackers “allows us to really engage the sentiment and the perception of a particular group of physicians or a particular physician, or a location,” Prieto adds.

The hospital knows how many mentions and the types of mentions it is getting on a range of social media web sites, such as Facebook, Vitals, Google, Zocdoc, Healthgrades, Yelp, WebMD, UCompareHealthCare, RateMDs, WELLNESS, FOURSQUARE and YP, among others. In total, the system monitors 300 locations.

During the past two years, as of August 1, Nicklaus Children’s has received 3,333 mentions. Prieto says the organization as a whole now is seeing its overall ratings on these sites improve. Two years ago, its overall rating was 4.0, and today it stands at 4.2.

“Everyone should be using some sort of listening tool, Prieto advises. “Even if it is just (using) a Google alert, you’ve got to be listening to what is being said out there.”

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