I wanted to take the opportunity tonight to talk a bit about social media measurement specific to healthcare. Although the platforms are the same, hospital communicators sometimes find themselves behind in terms of measurement best practice, for a number of reasons. Compared to private sector shops, we tend to have fewer staff and smaller budgets. We are faced with unique challenges because of patient confidentiality and the ethical considerations of hospitals or physicians &quot;friending” or “following” patients. And there are definite legal issues with respect to giving medical advice in a social media setting.
The other night my son asked me what I was speaking about tonight, and when I said Return on Engagement, he wondered if that was what happened when a marriage proposal was rejected. He thought maybe that involved having to return the engagement ring to the store. That cracked me up, but then I had to try to explain what Return on Engagement actually meant. I started with a formal explanation:
This comes from Brian Solis, who is the Principal at Altimeter Group, and who is well-known as a new media expert. RETURN ON ENGAGEMENT is the metric tied to time and investment spent participating or interacting with other social media users, and in turn, what transpired that's worthy of measurement. Then I rephrased it for a 13-year-old: “It’s about measuring the benefits of online conversations.” Simple, right? Maybe not.
There's a lot of talk among healthcare communicators about social media ROI and ROE. We all intuitively know it's important to measure the success of our social media efforts, yet we struggle mightily with how to do it. Common bottom-line measures of ROI tend to focus on things like sales or generating leads. Healthcare, specifically hospitals, doesn't always have these metrics.
Unlike most sectors, we don't always have an obvious product to sell. In emergency situations, we go to the closest hospital for care. When we are referred to a hospital for tests, procedures or more complex surgeries, we tend to go where our family physicians refer us.
So, like possibly many of you, we tend to measure the obvious social media metrics. We look to retweets, followers, check-ins, views, etc. And there's nothing wrong with that…but it's not a complete picture. You might have 1,000 posts on your Facebook wall, but if most of them are negative, and if you're not using the opportunity for service recovery, the ROE is probably dismal. Great volume, but poor engagement results.
A couple of weeks ago, I did some crowd sourcing, and can tell you that many hospital communicators are now also expanding into more sophisticated analysis that includes: follower demographics, conversion rates, sentiment analysis and Active vs Total Members And in doing so, we’ve come to the realization that we do have a product to sell. It's our reputation.
So why is reputation important?
Here's what we think MIGHT drive a hospital's reputation. A great deal of academic research went into this by my vice president, Anne Marie Males, who is currently enrolled in the Masters in Communication Management program here at McMaster. - Trust & Service Quality - Personal experience - Word-of-mouth recommendations from trusted sources (close friends, family or family physician) Based on Anne Marie's research, we knew we needed a way to measure our own reputation. We knew social media was a big part of that, but was certainly not the only measurement. So we developed our own Index to begin testing whether we could actually get a sense of our hospital's reputation in the community. Concurrently, we also engaged Leger Marketing to conduct independent research, as a way of comparing results with our index.
We began by correlating a number of measures we were already gathering. Like most hospitals, we have a ton of data…but it's not always used as effectively as it might be. We created our index based on five key measures that we felt any Canadian hospital could access: - Employee Opinion Surveys - Physician Opinion Surveys - Patient Satisfaction Surveys - Social media Klout score - Media Rating Points (MRP) quality score Essentially, we take an average of each measure on a monthly basis to determine our Reputation Score.
We have consistent data for most of these measures going back to April 2008 when I joined The Scarborough Hospital. We did not begin monitoring our Klout score until this time last year, so earlier timeframes exclude that data. What we can see, and which anecdotally feels right to us, is the slow and steady improvement over time. There have been some bumps in the road that we need to address…a few months ago, Klout revised its scoring algorithm, which dropped our Klout benchmark by about 10 points. You can see how it caused a slight dip in our results for November/December 2011. The answer probably lies in how we weight the categories. Interestingly, the work done by Leger surveying community members, staff, physicians, partners, etc. gave us an overall Reputation score of 62…just five points higher than our results, and within the margin of error for our sample size.
While we don't have comparator data to other hospitals yet, we do have some data for major corporations. So here's where we would rank compared to some of those. These slides were created by Leger Marketing and rank some of the top corporations in terms of their reputation score.
TSH would rank somewhere between a high of 34 and a low of 50. So, we’re roughly in the middle of the pack. We know we have work to do, but we feel we’re in pretty good company. At least now we have a way to meaningfully monitor our progress.
We plan to track our Reputation Index over time to monitor our progress We want to repeat the Leger study every two years to continue testing the validity of the index We are talking with other hospitals about our index, and trying to get them using the same format for benchmarking purposes. We hope this will help us understand what drives reputation in a healthcare setting. And we expect we will begin to adjust the category weights over time to better reflect reality. For instance, patient satisfaction surveys probably have more bearing on reputation than our Klout score. We’re working with our Decision Support department to fine-tune the index, to make sure we’re presenting fair, accurate data.
Taking the pulse of healthcare social media
Taking the pulse of healthcare social media A prescription for measuring reputation Dave Bourne Manager, Corporate Communications Twitter: @d_bourne
Next Steps: <ul><li>Track Reputation Index over time (update monthly) </li></ul><ul><li>Repeat Leger study bi-annually </li></ul><ul><li>Convince other hospitals to undertake similar work to establish benchmarking </li></ul><ul><li>Evaluate category weighting over time </li></ul>