The rise of social media has given medical practices a new tool for overcoming one of their biggest headaches: resolving disputes, or just getting answers from payers, EHR companies, and the many other entities practices depend on to operate efficiently and provide care to patients.
That’s because these organizations are sensitive to their online reputations. So when traditional methods of communication don’t get their attention, tweets and Facebook posts often will—provided they are worded and timed correctly.
Healthcare practice consultant David Zetter, CHBC, has been using social media to help clients deal with insurance companies and vendors for nearly a decade. He spoke recently with Medical Economics about what he has learned, and how even small practices can use social media to get these companies to respond to their needs.
What are some examples of times you’ve used social media on behalf of practices?
David Zetter: I have one client that had issues with the EHR company eClinicalWorks in early 2017. They were trying to report their results for Meaningful Use (MU) but having problems. And they were trying to get someone [at eClinical Works] to respond, and it just wasn’t working. They weren’t picking up the phone, they weren’t responding back after leaving messages.
So we basically set out on a social media campaign, saying that the company’s support wasn’t satisfactory, that deadlines were looming for MU attestation, and the company wasn’t responding. We started sending out tweets, posting to Facebook, basically anything that we could tag eClinicalWorks or any of their products. Within a week we started getting phone calls and got some of our issues resolved.
What gave you the idea to use social media this way?
DZ: I work with payers on behalf of clients all the time. And it’s difficult with [those] networks being closed, with payers that are consolidating and the lack of [support] infrastructure. For instance, UnitedHealthcare has been growing left and right for the last few years, and they don’t hire enough contract managers. They’re short-staffed on credentialing, they outsource their work to places like the Philippines or India, so a lot of times you can’t understand what the person you’re talking to is saying. And when we have issues with that, I start going to social media and start commenting on how terrible it is to deal with them or get answers.
I did this just recently with them because I wasn’t getting any response on credentialing I’m doing for a client [practice] in Texas. And they finally responded. I got a supervisor to call me and now they’re handling it.
Here’s another example: We had a client practice that was having problems with a lab. The lab was billing things incorrectly. We weren’t getting responses to our concerns. So we started tweeting and posting on Facebook about the lack of response we were getting. After about four days, we got a phone call from someone monitoring their social media. I told that person I needed to speak with someone above them, their supervisor or vice president, and within a few hours I got a return phone call and we got resolution to our issue. It worked; no ifs, ands, or buts about it.
With so many social media platforms now, how can practices know where to post so they’ll get a response? And isn’t it time-consuming to be posting throughout the day?
DZ: I use an application called Buffer. It lets me type one message and it will go out to every social media channel that I have. So if I type in one message—and I can do it from my phone, my PC, or anything—it will hit my Facebook page, the NSCHBC [National Society of Certified Health Care Business Consultants] Facebook page, both LinkedIn pages, both Twitter accounts; it goes to all of that. One message goes out everywhere. And you can set it in advance. So I’ll just barrage it for a week and I almost always get a phone call back.