Managing Patient Complaints on Social Media

Managing Patient Complaints on Social Media

As a health center, it is important to build a strong presence on social media, not only to connect with existing patients, but to encourage the enrollment of new patients, inform the public of service availability, and demonstrate the organization’s commitment to the health and wellness of the community.  Although social media can result in positive outcomes, it also now provides a platform for patients to complain publicly.  

In the past, patients primarily voiced their concerns to family and friends, as well as internally to health center staff.  With the explosion of social media platforms, patients now have a way to advertise their complaints to millions of people.  Health centers are understandably concerned about their reputations and the negative consequences that can result from publicly posted patient complaints; therefore, health centers must establish a solid plan for managing social media.    

Below are some tips on how to manage patient complaints on social media:

  • Designate one or two individuals to manage the health center’s social media platform.  This will limit access and remove the ability of other staff to respond to patient comments/complaints. 
  • Educate staff on who to contact if they receive an online complaint. 
  • Thank patients for providing feedback and have a standard reply that encourages the patient to communicate directly with the health center.
  • Do not respond to patient complaints in a negative manner.  This can result in a tug-of-war that has the ability to escalate the situation. 
  • Attempt to resolve the complaint in person or via telephone. 
  • Follow the health center’s policies and procedures for managing patient complaints and grievances, and document the complaint accordingly.
  • Utilize the complaint to evaluate opportunities for improvement.  

It is important to remember that disruptive and inappropriate complaints are never acceptable. As a result, health centers should ensure staff have a designated individual to contact if they feel threatened by the patient complaint.   Additionally, health centers should ensure they have solid policies and procedures in place for managing disruptive patients, as well as patient dismissal.

Have a question?