The VA has endured some bad publicity in recent years, including reports of inadequate healthcare at the nation’s most well-known government hospital, Walter Reed Army Medical Center. In the midst of creating a strategic plan for the next two years, the agency had concerns about public opinion with regard to its programs.
Using OhMyGov Media Analytics and our team of human analysts, we provided the VA with a small but informative study analyzing how patients and VA employees were talking about the agency on social media. We amassed a sample of 5,000 public comments and analyzed what patients were saying online about the VA care they received. We also looked at what people who self-identified as VA employees were saying.
The study yielded several interesting findings. First, complaints about customer service far outweighed issues with quality of care. Only 5% of commenters complained about receiving inadequate healthcare; however, an astonishing 50% complained publicly of receiving poor customer service at VA facilities. This finding alerted the VA to the presence of a major issue in its customer service, providing the insights to support shifting some funding from healthcare to service initiatives. The study also identified 7 specific facilities where complaints were the highest and 4 facilities where customers publicly acknowledged improvements in customer service. Additional research at these four facilities would reveal the policy shifts that triggered these online compliments.