3 Social Listening Tools for Healthcare Provides

It’s tempting to assume that there are industries that managed to avoid the power and the influence of social media. Some might indeed exist, but healthcare is not one of these industries. Admittedly, healthcare providers have been quite slow to digitize their services, as well as their PR and their marketing. But the COVID-19 pandemic caught them up ― and now telehealth, wireless healthcare, online platforms for medical services, and chats with your doctors on Messengers are a regular part of a patient’s experience. And so is (and was since the beginning of the Internet) the search for medical information online.

Search engines and social media promise all the information to all the burning questions just a search query away. While we may argue about the quality and reliability of this information, we can’t deny that this is how people obtain it ― including the information about their health. A 2019 study that focused on health information on social media showed that approximately 85% of respondents sought medical information using search engines. Out of these, 72,8% searched for information through social media.

As an example, we can look at the COVID-19 pandemic. PWC reported that at the time of their study only 11% of consumers said they’ve received information on what to do from their primary care doctor while as much as 26% told the researchers they got the information from social media. There’s no way around it: people turn to social media, online articles, blogs, forums, and news sources when they have questions. These are questions about their health and the health of their loved ones: what do the symptoms mean, how to treat a specific disease, which meds are better. But also these are questions about doctors, specialists, hospitals, and health systems. Patients are just like any other modern-day consumers: they want to make informed decisions using the Internet.

What are social listening tools?

A social listening tool (also often called “social media monitoring tool”) is software that monitors and analyzes online conversations about a keyword or a number of keywords the user specifies. This can be a brand (“Henry Ford Hospital”), a specific topic (“COVID-19 treatment”), a competitor, a quote, or anything else that can be put into words and found online. A social listening tool pulls in mentions of specified keywords from social media networks, blogs, forums, and news sites, and analyses these mentions to tell the user statistics, geography and demographics of the mentions’ authors, trends, and other insights. 

How can healthcare providers use social listening tools?

  1. Feedback gathering

Most healthcare organizations gather feedback using traditional methods: feedback forms, interviews, patient testimonials, and reviews. Social listening provides a much better understanding of what patients really think about your hospital, health professionals, their visit, and so on. Social media is meant for recommendations and sharing one’s opinion about different brands and experiences. With a social listening tool, health providers can monitor their names online and gather feedback from all over the Internet in one place.

Most social listening tools (we’ll get to the list later) have a feature called Sentiment analysis. Sentiment analysis studies the tone of all mentions of your brand (in this case, all mentions of your hospital) and breaks them down into positive, negative, and neutral. This way, you can see what the patients think of their experience with just one glance ― by looking at the sentiment analysis graph. You’ll be able to tell which days/weeks/months were positive and which ones were negative and spot any crises and problems that patients have pointed out. By the way, social listening tools work in real-time, so if you regularly check up on your Sentiment analysis results, you can spot a crisis before it becomes visible to most people. You can go from the bird-view of your feedback to individual mentions whenever you want ― just by clicking at any point in the graph. 

  1. Brand reputation

Healthcare has branding, marketing, and PR just like any other industry. Healthcare providers work hard to build trust between themselves and their patients, improve patients’ attitudes towards their services, present themselves as a better choice than their competitors, and improve patients’ experience. Just as they should. 

A vital part of building trust and improving patient experience is directly related to the healthcare organization’s ability to communicate with their patients, listen to them and empathize with them. 

Social media allows two-way public communication between patients, healthcare organizations, and other third parties. In order to build this communication, the first step for a healthcare provider is to have a social media account. The next step is to have a social listening tool to find conversations to join, connect with thought leaders (many social listening tools find them for you), and start listening and replying. You can use this channel as a kind of customer service: to enhance support for patients and other consumers, answer queries like hours of operation, and provide information on pre and post-operative care. When patients complain about their experience with health professionals at your hospitals or about their overall experience, someone behind the computer can respond to their issues and complaints, which will make them feel better even if the actual issue will remain unsolved. In the best-case scenario, the issue can also be spotted in time and solved straight away!

  1. Create patient-centric marketing campaigns

Marketing campaigns are always better if they involve the patients themselves. You know the type of the campaigns: the ones that use hashtags, online contests, and quizzes. Social listening tools help find participants for such campaigns, monitor topics and hashtags, and show the results. They measure the buzz around every marketing campaign: how many mentions and impressions the campaign received, were they positive or negative, and what people thought about the campaign as a whole and in detail. 

For example, New York-Presbyterian ― an integrated academic healthcare system ―  launched the “Stay Amazing” campaign in 2021. It encouraged consumers to prioritize their health and well-being with New York-Presbyterian as their wellness partner at every stage of their lives. The “Stay Amazing” campaign captured the joy of New Yorkers throughout their everyday life journeys and the care they receive from New York-Presbyterian. It appeared in national and regional print, television, radio, online media outlets, and across social channels. Many enterprise-level social listening tools could assess how it’s going and how successful it was ― not only on social media but also across all other channels. 

Which social listening tools should healthcare facilities use?

Social listening tools are usually divided into three categories: free tools with very limited functionality used by entrepreneurs and individuals (Social Mention, TweetDeck), paid tools for small- and medium-sized businesses (Mention, Awario, Brand24), and enterprise-level tools with extensive coverage and functionality (Sprout Social, Brandwatch, Talkwalker). For healthcare providers, the coverage they need might have to go beyond online and include TV and radio as well, which is what enterprise-level tools are capable of doing.

Here’s a quick overview of the tools. Keep in mind that prices for them are tailored to the company’s requirements, and you can sign up for a demo of each of the tools to get familiar with them. 

Sprout Social

Sprout Social is an all-in-one social media management platform. Social listening is one of its main features, however, the tool also allows publishing, scheduling, and extensive analytics. Its social listening capabilities include monitoring of all major online sources, trend analysis, sentiment analysis, brand health metrics, and much more. The tool produces visually appealing, intuitive reports with all the insights that can be shared within the facility and with the third parties. 

Brandwatch

Brandwatch offers its customers to “analyze billions of online conversations in real-time to keep up with hyper-conscious healthcare consumers”. And that is what the tool is all about. The tool analyzes more than 100 million online sources, finds conversations and builds a real-time view of shifting consumer behaviors, connects the marketers with the thought leaders and influential voices, and does a lot more. Their case studies mention companies in all kinds of industries, including healthcare. For example, there’s a case study on how Spectrum Health leveraged Brandwatch Analytics and Hootsuite to provide excellent social customer service.

Talkwalker

Talkwalker is a social listening tool with an AI-predictive alert system to identify potential crises or false claims around your products, patents, or trials, and respond immediately. Just like other tools, it monitors conversations around your healthcare provider 24/7. It allows the marketers to find the ideal audiences for their services based on the audience’s interests, brand affinities, and demographics. It also finds thought leaders and influencers relevant to your case. 

To sum up

With social listening data, healthcare organizations can reach a whole new level. They can understand which questions, problems, and pain points their patients have. They can provide impactful and credible information. They can make patients feel heard, which will make the latter more likely to spread the good word about said healthcare organization. With a social listening tool, healthcare organizations can know almost immediately how patients felt after their visits, whether there was an issue that has to be solved immediately, and what can be improved. They can prevent scandals, build trust, and create a reputation as a place of the best care. 

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