as a direct line of contact to their phy- sician, so it is important that you main- tain that line of communication.” Consider that it is going to take

time to build an audience and engage in conversation with the members of that audience, David says, and it will take time out of someone’s daily schedule to post. “You can send the wrong message by being inconsistent with posting or posting only once a month,” she cautions.


Write about the things that people want to hear about, Zapata says. “Doctors want to write about research or things that are clinical,” she says. “Patients respond more to what they want to know. For example, during Valentine’s Day, we wrote about sex and back pain. “We have 3–4 stories every month on trending topics,” she continues. “We do a lot of research to figure out what people are talking about and insert ourselves in the conversation. We scour the Internet trying to find what people are talking about, what is interesting right now and what people want to know.” McDaniel agrees. “Your social media site should not just talk about your ASC’s great patient care and accomplished

doctors,” she says.

“Social media is more about giving people what they need. For instance, we cover all types of topics on our blog. We start by listening to the patients that are calling in. Are they asking if your providers are in-network? If yes, you might want to write about whether your ASC is in-network. On our blog, we also write about what we think patients need to know, for example, when we offer a new treatment option, we write about it. We keep an ongoing content calendar which helps us keep up with the different topics and pace our blogs accordingly.” Also, look at your web site to see what resources you already have and

Commenting Think about your social media site as a two-way conversation center, David says. “Be willing and prepared to lis- ten to people’s feedback, whether from posts that you put out yourself or from patients. Usually feedback is positive, and when it is not, you can use it to make changes to improve the patient experience.”

Be transparent. Show that you do not filter or monitor what people are saying because what they are saying is real.”

— Cheryl Zapata Texas Back Institute

you might want to repurpose some of that content on social media, McDan- iel suggests. “The last thing people want is for you to constantly sell your- self on social media. They want infor- mation that they might not have from some other sources. You have to be dis- creet on selling your ASC.” Don’t forget to use videos and pho- tos, Zapata says. “When Prince Fielder was injured we wrote a blog about him and back pain and we got a lot of traf- fic from that.” It is important to get the buy-in from

your doctors, McDaniel says. “We ask our doctors to review our blog and make sure that it is medically accurate. We try to pair doctors with the differ- ent articles we post to put a name with the content. That makes everything more real and approachable.”

A lot of hospitals do not allow commenting on their social media sites, Zapata says. “They post but they manage the comments,” she says. “It is so much more real when it is a two- way conversation. Don’t be afraid, don’t worry about what others might post. People are afraid of negative comments but we, in 8 years, have had only six negative comments, four per- sonal attacks and thousands of posi- tive comments.” TBI leaves its negative comments

up but not the personal attacks, Zapata says. “Be transparent. Show that you do not filter or monitor what people are saying because what they are say- ing is real. We let you see what every- one’s saying and that gives credibility. That lets readers know that this is the real deal.” Don’t ignore the negative com- she

ments, however, says, address

them. “Say you are sorry and give your number to have them call back. Be very conscientious about HIPAA [Health Insurance Portability and Account- ability Act of 1996] guidelines. Don’t say anything specific about the patient commenting, make your response very general and then take it offline.” What you may or may not post online could be specified in a social media policy, David says. “A policy might be a good idea with two sides: one for marketing to guide how you will respond to patients and the posts you will deliver, and the other for your staff, so they know what is appropri- ate and inappropriate.” Bring in human

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