How One Hospital is Improving Patient Care with Social Media | Hootsuite Blog
Image via Texas Children's Hospital

How One Hospital is Improving Patient Care with Social Media

When it comes to customer care, Texas Children’s Hospital doesn’t stop at the nurses’ midnight rounds. We heard about the excellent social customer service they were providing and wanted the full story.

Cara Lovan, the senior social media specialist at Texas Children’s Hospital, spoke with us about how they’re making deeper personal connections and improving customer experiences with social media.

“I think a lot of organizations are beginning to rethink the traditional customer experience,” says Lovan. “As we notice more interactions on social media, we (as an organization) have to grow with them and adapt our strategies. Social media has fundamentally changed the way in which we work with customers. The insights we take from Hootsuite have the power to influence a new wave of thinking for us.”

Customer care and Texas Children’s Hospital: A social story

Texas Children’s Hospital, located in Houston, is one of the top children’s hospitals in the U.S. The hospital system has two community hospitals, a women’s hospital, over 50 pediatric practices, and five urgent care locations.

When it comes to social media, leadership’s top concern is brand and reputation management. They want to avoid a social media PR crisis and aim to resolve customer service issues as quickly and thoroughly as possible.

“We always want to present ourselves as the leading experts in children’s health and information,” says Lovan.

How One Hospital is Improving Patient Care with Social Media | Hootsuite Blog
Image via Texas Children’s Hospital.

Lovan uses social customer service to meet leadership’s objectives while working to improve the patient experience.

“We’re in an age where people are turning to social media,” says Lovan. “We want to be where our patients are and meet their expectations. When it comes to social, it’s important for us to respond to everything, both the positive and negative. We want people to know that we’re on social, listening, and ready to have an open dialogue.”

A social media management team of one

Lovan is the only person dedicated to managing social media at Texas Children’s. She manages 13 channels, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest. She is responsible for driving campaigns, answering questions, resolving issues, and listening to and engaging with customers. To put it lightly, she’s busy.

Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women is celebrating 4 years of miracles today. #pavilionforwomen

A photo posted by Texas Children’s Hospital (@texaschildrens) on

Before Hootsuite, it would typically take her three hours every morning to manage her social channels and answer comments, complaints, and general questions.

“I never got to everything before needing to move on to other tasks for the day,” she says. “With Hootsuite, it takes me half the time to do so much more. With that extra hour and a half, I have time to strengthen relationships and engage our audience with a depth that I couldn’t before.”

Handling sensitive customer experiences with humility

Using data pulled from Hootsuite Analytics, Lovan can understand the feedback coming from patients. The majority of comments are positive, but she still needs to work with compliance and family advocacy teams to properly address feedback and understand the root of the problem.

For example, if someone sends a message about how their child is currently in surgery, “we need to pay attention to those comments and their sentiment, and respond with the utmost thoughtfulness,” she says. “This parent is probably having the worst day of his or her life. We have to be efficient in our responses, but also sensitive and human.”

Using Hootsuite keyword search streams, she sees time-sensitive messages right away. She engages with the patient and points them to a service phone number that keeps sensitive information offline and allows them to remain HIPAA compliant. She then alerts the person who manages the line of the incoming patient inquiry.
She can also ask patients to provide their phone number so that a practice manager who deals with specific cases can assist. Because Lovan works with more than 50 practice managers, she has to work quickly, collaboratively, effectively, and with a keen sense of the problem and solution—all with a bit of humility.

Great customer service can lead to lifelong advocates

“Today I had a positive comment come in that I responded to right away,” Lovan shares. “We started a conversation and now the patient’s family is writing a blog for us. We’re taking social to a deeper level of engagement, which is an exciting opportunity that I didn’t always have the time and resources to do before Hootsuite. By having this extra time, we are strengthening relationships, but most importantly, providing a better patient experience.”

Lovan uses Hootsuite to quickly see everything social media-related, all together. This allows her to strike up conversations about positive or negative experiences and dig deeper into stories.

“Our patients often become our biggest advocates and bloggers,” she tells us. “They’ll say something like, ‘Texas Children’s saved my daughter’s life,’ and we’ll reach out to hear more. This is happening more now that we can see what people are saying. Now repeat people come back with more questions because they know we answer their inquiries.”

Creating social campaigns to celebrate advocates

Most of what Texas Children’s shares focuses on babies and children, but for their Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women campaign, they wanted to show some love to the moms. The #ShareYourMoment campaign encourages moms to share an image, story, or experience of the first moment with their newborn babies. This campaign speaks specifically to the hospital’s Pavilion for Women Facebook Page, but is great visual user-generated content for Instagram. “We wanted to focus on the people who are following us and show moms that we’re listening,” Lovan explains.

Lovan monitors the #ShareYourMoment hashtag in a Hootsuite search stream to find new submissions on Facebook and Instagram. Using the Instagram integration in Hootsuite, she can schedule future content and receive reminders before publishing.

“In August of 2014 I traveled to Houston from my hometown of Kailua, Hawaii while pregnant with my twins. I relocated due to my husband’s military service and due to his service I was alone. I immediately sought care in the maternal fetal medicine clinic with Dr. Karla Wagner. She saw me through the last half of my pregnancy and encouraged a comfortable and safe birth. At 35 weeks my water broke much to my surprise as this was not my first child. My twins were born on December 20, 2014 at Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women and spent six days in the NICU so they could get strong enough to come home. All of the staff encouraged our bonding. While recovering from my C-section my husband was able to do skin to skin with the twins. I was immediately provided with a breast pump I had requested while the twins were being stabilized in the NICU. Our birthing experience at Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women is what encouraged me as a mother and also an RN to seek employment with Texas Children’s. In May of 2015 I started my new position in the emergency center!” – Alicia ‪ Want to #ShareYourMoment? Email with 2-3 photos and a brief description. All submissions reviewed. Not all guaranteed. Pavilion for Women patients only.

A photo posted by Texas Children’s Hospital (@texaschildrens) on

“I love scheduling on Instagram,” she tells us. “I’m usually on-the-go and busy, and unless it’s right in front of me, I’ll forget to post. This way, my phone notifies me, I press send, and can continue on with my day.”

“My precious daughter was born three years ago on a Friday morning at Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women. It’s hard to find the words to describe the joy I felt when Annie first entered the world. Even in the midst of all the discomforts of labor, I wanted that moment to last forever. I had felt her and loved her for months, but now I could touch, see, smell and hear her and she was so much more than I could have ever dreamed! Annie made mewling sounds like a kitten. She fit so snuggly in my arms and just seemed content to cuddle. Her skin was so soft that I just kept rubbing it; my favorite picture from that day is of her right up under my chin and us rubbing cheeks. That’s the moment I will treasure forever.” – Ellie Want to #ShareYourMoment? Email with 2-3 photos and a brief description. All submissions reviewed. Not all guaranteed. Pavilion for Women patients only.

A photo posted by Texas Children’s Hospital (@texaschildrens) on

“Since Hootsuite, we’re more engaged, getting better stories out there, and generally more aware of what our followers want to hear from us,” Lovan shares. “We used to respond within 12 to 24 hours of an inquiry. Today, if I can’t respond right away, it’s typically within two hours across any of our profiles. I can finally see what’s going on, everywhere.”

Learn more about how other customers #WinWithSocial using Hootsuite.