Social media versus official channels for effective feedback?

A reporter at the Telegraph said that negative feedback on social media sites amounted to bullying according to a GP practice subjected to adverse criticism. According to the practice the items had named staff, contained appalling language and were completely contrary to the NHS Zero Tolerance policy.

Posted on the CQC Linked In group (recommended for interesting debate) the item stimulated discussion about using social media to name and shame. Care2Improve advocated generating feedback in a positive, constructive way and using official channels, but others felt that going public was the only choice because people don’t listen.

Health Watch, the body set up to enable people to be heard, agrees that people don’t listen but they definitely advocate official channels:

 “Complaints can identify problems and help to improve services for other people. But the health and social care system is not always good at listening. Report after report has found a systematic failure to listen to, and act upon, the concerns of patients, carers and families.  People…are going unheard because the current system is simply too complex. The complaints system needs to be simplified. It also needs to be more joined up to ensure there is ‘no wrong door’ for people looking to raise a concern, and the right information and support needs to be made available for those who want to complain” To see the Health Watch guides on making complaints follow this link: http://www.healthwatch.co.uk/complaints/guides

What can social care providers take away from this discussion?

  1. Social media is a fact of life, for good or ill, whatever your private viewpoint. More and more people use it, particularly the relatives of your target market! It doesn’t do to ignore it!
  2. Social media comment is likely to be the result of a single issue, a single grievance and not representative of your service as a whole. It is important that you know what is being said about you on social media sites.
  3. Can you look at your organisation, and hand on heart say that you are open to constructive comment? Do you make it easy for people to complain?
  4. Do you have robust, positive messages, preferably independent available as proof that poor the comment on social media is not representative?
  5. Do you have means of counteracting any potential negative comments? Do you have a face book page or anyone with any experience of Social Media in your organisation?

At the end of the day, care providers are required to solicit feedback and make it easy to complain or give feedback. Equally as a commercial organisation they need to be aware of the market place and their image. Using a structured feedback tool such as Care2Improve, puts that mechanism in place and gives respondents confidence that they can complain, that they will be heard and that there is an intent to improve. It also gives you the messages you need to feed into your market place.