Online reputation management: Strategies from HCA, UPMC, 5 other health systems

In March, brand management firm Reputation released its 2022 rankings of the top 15 health systems with the best patient reviews among the 25 largest U.S. systems by 2021 revenue. Becker's reached out to some of those hospitals to learn more about the patient review management strategies they use. Here's what they said:

Editor's note: Responses have been lightly edited for clarity and style.

Karla Miller, PharmD. Care Experience Lead at HCA Healthcare (Nashville, Tenn.): HCA Healthcare has long been committed to continually improving our patients' care experience by evaluating patient satisfaction and responding to feedback. We work to understand their experience in our care settings across the country by providing easily accessible ways for patients to offer thoughts about the care they received. Along with a traditional mail approach, we also include text, email and social media feedback opportunities. 

Recently we incorporated the use of natural language processing and artificial intelligence to better analyze the vast amount of comments received both in our survey data and on social media. All of this allows HCA Healthcare to leverage our data to better meet the needs of patients.

Roselle Charlier. Vice President, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer at Universal Health Services (King of Prussia, Pa.): At Universal Health Services, we view feedback as a gift — an opportunity to engage further in delivering a positive patient experience. We employ a centralized approach to online reputation management with a dedicated and diligent team that responds to all reviews; flags reviews requiring service recovery directly to identified individuals at the appropriate hospital for follow-up; sends particularly notable positive reviews to facilities for internal sharing and celebration; trains new hospital personnel involved in the process; compiles best practices; and engages on behalf of the entire enterprise with our online reputation management partner.

We can manage what we measure. We monitor the metrics and distribute quarterly 'leaderboard' reports to senior management and to our hospital administrative and clinical leadership. These contain each hospital’s latest metrics, as well as those of identified in-market competitor hospitals. Across our enterprise, UHS responded to 18,000 online reviews in 2021 with a 93 percent response rate — typically within 24 hours of when the review was posted. All positive reviews receive a response of gratitude, while responses to negative and neutral reviews direct the reviewer to contact the hospital directly to engage privately and allow us to resolve patient concerns. 

Our rapid review management allows us to provide our hospitals with both timely service recovery and employee reward and recognition opportunities. Throughout the pandemic, reviews of staff appreciation were leveraged to further support our incredible healthcare workers and acknowledge their dedication. We know consumers have choices, and we seek to be the preferred provider in our served markets.

Julie Spencer Washington. Senior Vice President, Chief Marketing, Communications and Experience Officer at Trinity Health (Livonia, Mich): Trinity Health's vision is to be the most trusted health partner for life, and our brand promise is to listen, partner and make healthcare easy for our patients. A fundamental step in delivering our brand promise is to listen to our patients' needs, and as such, patient review management serves as a key listening strategy. This strategy is rooted in active engagement and collaboration among all key stakeholders and a trusting relationship with providers to improve the patient experience.

Trinity Health leaders have connected patient feedback from all platforms to create a program where feedback is sought out, reviewed and responded to in a timely manner. For example, requests for feedback are sent to patients following discharge or provider appointments. We monitor the resulting third-party website reviews and respond to inquiries in a timely and complete manner. After collecting and analyzing reviews, insights are generated, and key stakeholders (including marketing and communications, patient experience and operational leaders) collaborate to review data and implement improvements.  

Additionally, a key strategy to active patient review management is a partnership with providers. Transparency is top of mind, as Google searches and reviews are often the first stop for consumers when deciding on where to seek care. Trinity Health leaders and providers have partnered together to transform our culture to be nimble and embrace the power of listening.

Brandi West, Vice President of Consumer Innovation at AdventHealth (Altamonte Springs, Fla.): Our goal is to show uncommon compassion in every interaction, whether it takes place in person at one of our facilities or with someone who reaches out through an online review. We strive to have genuine one-to-one connections with our patients no matter where we meet them and translate their feedback into real, operational change when necessary.

Nick Ragone, Executive Vice President, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer at Ascension (St. Louis): At Ascension, our positive consumer reviews and top star ratings are a reflection of how our caregivers are consistently delivering on our brand promise of compassionate, personalized care for all every day. And we know that our consumers are using those comparables to choose Ascension because that measure of positive experience is a measure of quality. 

We are committed to actively listening to those we serve. Our requests for reviews are a way of inviting conversation and listening to understand each individual. To further that, we have deployed review requests across Ascension Medical Group and all Ascension sites of care, supported by robust response and resolution by our patient and consumer experience team.

Tami Minnier. Senior Vice President, Chief Quality and Operational Excellence Officer at UPMC: In an effort to foster transparency with our patients and improvement in our patient experience, UPMC was among the first systems in the country to post ratings from patients and their comments about our physicians online. We started this initiative in 2015 to underscore how seriously we take patient feedback and to help our overwhelmingly excellent physicians better understand their own performance.

At the same time, we embarked nearly five years ago on a focused effort called the UPMC Experience to raise our patient satisfaction scores through employee engagement efforts, evidence-based management practices and training and alignment of measurements and incentives. As a result, we have seen significant improvement across our 40-plus hospital system in our patient satisfaction ratings and our levels of employee engagement. This is an ongoing journey and culture change for UPMC, as we seek to be the employer and provider of choice in every community that we serve.

Becky Armendariz. Associate Vice President of Marketing and Public Relations at Banner Health (Phoenix): Banner Health has a comprehensive reputation management strategy which includes things like review solicitation, 24/7 social response and news media facilitation. We measure our success through monthly monitoring of 13 critical areas that contribute to our overall reputation and can make adjustments to our efforts if any of the areas are in need of improvement.

We utilize a third-party platform to request patient feedback via Google reviews. Once a patient is discharged from one of our facilities, they receive an email asking if they would be willing to share their experience with others. When they click on the link, they are directed to a page where they can post their review. Our 24/7 social response team monitors all online activity — positive and negative — and responds to those posts in a timely manner. Average response time for this team is one hour, and they manage roughly 4,500 online engagements per month.

In 2019 when we started review solicitation for our urgent care locations, the urgent cares had roughly 2,200 reviews total and an average star rating of 3.03. Today, those locations have 56,340 reviews and an average star rating of 4.35. We are working now to extend this practice to our other care locations.

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