People today are more aware of their responsibilities as consumers, whether purchasing a car, new home or healthcare. Yelp’s official blog says that 85 percent of consumers use social media to find local businesses. (Who hasn’t looked for a place to eat on Yelp when sudden hunger strikes while running errands?)
Social media can help consumers with a healthcare-as-a-service approach to discuss options and gather research about treatments over social media. The American College of Surgeons (ACS) agrees: With social media, consumers can get up-to-date ratings for healthcare. And, what about healthcare providers? The ACS says that “…more than 700 hospitals use social networking tools.” ACS says that Facebook is used by 64 percent of surgeons, and 95 percent of medical schools have a Facebook presence! That’s a resounding yes to social media — no snake oil here.
A new study from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) shows use across all health care segments is more common that you might think. PwC gives these examples of how social media is used on community sites by group:
- Consumers report on their care and treatment
- Providers educate and involve their members and patients
- Insurers find and engage new members
- Pharmaceutical companies report on news, medications and issues
PwC’s study breaks down social media use for healthcare into easy-to-digest facts. What are the most common social media activities for consumers? PwC says common activities are posts about medical experiences, reviews about care (including caregivers, locations, medications and treatments) and supporting healthcare causes.
On the PwC web page, look under the heading Demographic influence on consumer social media activity for demographic options. Here, you can use the interactive graphic to customize your own demographic output. You can combine the selections for gender, age group, education, income and insured status to build a custom analysis set. To display the statistics, click entries for each category.
I decided to look at a specific age group who are well-known for using social media. From the overall categories, I selected a subcategory to review: people aged 18–24. In that group, I selected categories for college graduates with yearly incomes between $25,000 and $49,000 who have no health insurance. Here’s how they reported their social media use:
- 60 percent post their health experiences on social media
- 80 percent review their doctors, treatments and medications on social media
- Between 60 and 80 percent either joined or supported a health-related cause over social media
At the right of the PwC page, there are links to the detailed, 19-page report, Social media “likes” healthcare, from marketing to social media, that you can download in Adobe Acrobat PDF format. There is also a downloadable chart pack that includes the statistical graphs. Whether you are a consumer or a healthcare provider, both documents are interesting reading. Based on the statistics used for this article, I vote for social media as panacea for healthcare for both patients and caregivers.
How do you use social media with respect to your healthcare? If you are a healthcare provider, do you use social media? If so, how? Tell us in the comments.
|Diana Ost is a social media advisor consultant and social journalist with Dell in Commercial Digital Online Marketing. Prior to this gig, Diana wrote web copy for Dell.com about topics ranging from cloud computing to big data. Diana is also a photographer and recorded musician. Follow Diana on Twitter @DianaAtDell.|