Photo by Elijah Hiett on Unsplash

Social media is no longer optional.

Last week, I gave a talk on “Creating Awareness and Buy-In” at the Innovation bootcamp of the Orthopedic Value-Based Care Conference; I covered new trends in social media for healthcare organizations. Right now, those trends have a lot to do with education (for instance, the International Hernia Collaboration on Facebook) and public health campaigns (for instance, #YESMAMM and We Dare You to Share).

That weekend, though, a panel discussion brought up another issue: physician ranking. In addition to MIPS scores, the panel was also discussing ratings, such as on Healthgrades. Some people were irritated to think surgeons could be ranked the same way as hotels on Yelp. Others were wondering how lay people could understand and interpret the criteria needed to know whether a given doctor was really “5-star” or not.

To me, though, all of that missed the point.

The reality is, whether anyone likes it or not, ratings are part of our culture and they are not going anywhere. So, the focus has to be on how to respond in this new world.

Are you building relationships or just pushing content?

In the new world – and it’s already here – patients are not just going to go to Google first, they are going to check out their favorite Twitter or Instagram folks and get their opinion. Much as traditional medical organizations want to dismiss these folks as mere lay-people, the fact is that many of them are very well-educated in their focus area. More importantly, they have built the trust of thousands.

These influencers include people living with diabetes who serve as a support and education for others dealing with that illness. They include people with rare diseases who come together under the #raredisease hashtag to help others like them navigate a difficult system, which knows very little about their conditions. It includes parents who have become leaders in raising children with chronic illnesses and who help others meet the challenge.

How well providers and healthcare organizations play in these waters is going to make or break their reputations. And it will have the ability to counteract any negative scores or ratings.

[su_quote]It’s not about posting your latest PR video or newsletter; it’s about connections. [/su_quote]

For those of us who have used social media for a long while, we know that the beauty of it comes from the relationships you build. For healthcare to support – or, sometimes, counteract – their ratings, they are going to need a strong social presence.

Think of it this way: if you get a bad CAHPS or MIPS score, it will be a huge help to already have relationships with patients and influencers in your community. And, if you get great scores, those social media connections will only underscore your awesomeness. Either way, it’s a win.

Social Media in the Age of MIPS

Here are two things you can do to compete in the new world of physician and health system ratings:

  1. Learn who the social media influencers are in your local area and in your specialty.
  2. Follow them. Learn what they’re all about. Reach out to them and start building a relationship.

  3. Actively produce content that builds a connection with your patients and community.
  4. Live stream Q&A sessions. Participate in chats and hashtags. Share your thoughts and your knowledge – but, above all, share your humanity.

The health systems that hold on to outmoded ideas of hierarchy are going to fumble. If you don’t want to be among them, stop carping about who should or shouldn’t get to rate you. Instead, start connecting. Providers and health systems that truly care – and show it – will be the ones that shine in this new world.

Need help navigating this new world? I can help – let’s talk.