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Social media has fundamentally changed the patient to patient and patient to provider communications relationship. The advent of transparent, real time social media communication platforms that allow open and honest dialogue presents a host of opportunities for health care facilities to capitalize on positive patient sentiment and build a trusted support community to actively engage with. Patient evangelists can be identified and leveraged to spread good will and build brand equity to help maintain trust and confidence in health care services.
Just as the explosion of social media communication can translate into many positives for a health care facility, it can also work as a platform for patients to voice complaints and negativity. Health care providers should be aware that social media use requires a detailed and comprehensive plan for employees to follow that dictates guidelines and procedures to follow for patient communication and what steps to take in the event of positive or negative expressions. Are healthcare facilities adequately prepared to handle the new paradigm of social media communication?