This Facebook Poster Wasn't Our “Friend”
As I See It
This Facebook Poster Wasn't Our “Friend”
Social media can offer a humbling but helpful view of your practice.
By Paul S. Koch, MD, Editor Emeritus
I've been getting a lot of unsolicited e-mails from Web sites telling me it's the place where people go to rate doctors. I know about Angie's List and a few other sites where people do go to gossip about the help, but all these other places seem bogus. I hit the delete button.
But I do periodically scan a few other sites. Every time I see a glowing report about a doctor or an office, I have the same suspicious reaction: “There's no way a patient wrote that. I bet it was an employee.”
There are indeed some sites where we can read unfiltered opinions about medical offices. Twitter and Facebook come to mind. I don't go on them often, but I do have friends who are on regularly. One came across the following Facebook post and sent it to me. All spelling and grammar errors are from the original commenters.
“Not too impressed with Koch Eye Associates : ).” Oh, I don't like how it's starting, but I keep reading.
“&*$%, my first appointment is coming up.” This was posted six minutes later by one of her friends.
“They are A-holes in my experience.” This posted four minutes later by Friend #2. Whoa. I check him out. He's never been to the office. Probably knows me personally.
The patient two minutes later: “Grrr. This is my 2nd and last. I hope your experience is better. No one seems to know what's going on. My appointment was scheduled for a half hour ago and I'm not even waiting in a room.”
Followed by: “I have now been here 50 minutes and I'm still waiting. I'm about to bounce, stat!” Hmm, a clue. She's either in the medical business or else watches a lot of television.
From the guy who has never been to the office: “I just thought they were a-holes.” Yes, he definitely knows me. Maybe my brother, too.
New friend: “I'd reschedule that appointment elsewhere. I blew that pop stand.” Hmm, I can't tell if he'd been here and left, or was offering the advice “If I were you, I'd blow that pop stand.” I checked. He's not a patient, and I understand that he probably never will be.
Another friend: “I went there once and that was enough for me!!!” Wow, three exclamation points. I checked my computer. Sure enough, she came to us once over a year ago and never came back.
Friend Two (the one who apparently knows me) sums up the exchange thusly: “When Facebook goes bad for business.”
Exactly. I wondered how many other people were reading this post by post, just as it was happening. Right now I think Facebook is very, very bad for business.
Patient: “That's why it's so important to run a good biz.” Sigh. We try. We try.
Friend Two again: “In my business we try not to be a-holes.” OK already. I get it! Wise advice. Thank you.
A new person joins in. “Are you just getting an annual vision check. I go to a small-town guy for my glasses and it's so nice. Go find someone else!” Whew, just one exclamation point.
And then suddenly the sky brightened and the sun came out. The group gave up on us and wrote about other things. The Koch thread was done.
We really dropped the ball with this patient, and the entire world had a chance to find out. I wonder how many people read her account on Facebook and permanently scratched us off their list.
Nevertheless, I was really impressed with how someone sitting with a smart phone can share her day with her friends, in this case recounting an unimpressive visit at the place with my name on the door. Social media is a powerful yet double-edged sword, but the scabbard is really simple to wield: treat patients so well that they won't write this stuff — and maybe, just maybe, they'll write the kind of things I've always assumed were written by employees. OM
||Paul S. Koch, MD is editor emeritus of Ophthalmology Management and the medical director of Koch Eye Associates in Warwick, RI. His e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ophthamology Management, Volume: 16 , Issue: June 2012, page(s): 6