Study indicates patients seek health information and services from social media.
Patients’ use of social media has been well documented and discussed. They are active with social engagement on Facebook and other social networking sites. Now research has found that consumers want to discuss their healthcare concerns on social media sites. And they want services provided in social media that will help them manage their healthcare.
In a survey of 1,060 U.S adults by the PwC Health Research Institute found that a third of respondents are gravitating to social media as a place for discussions of healthcare as reported by Pamela Lewis Dolan in an article in American Medical News. In addition to the web, consumers are now also turning to social media sites for meaningful healthcare information.
The PwC report showed that 40% of consumers have used social media to find health-related consumer reviews of treatments or doctors; 30% have sought information related to other patients’ experiences with their disease; and 25% have posted comments about their health experience.
When asked whether information on social networks would affect their health decisions, 45% said it would play in role in whether to get a second opinion and 41% said it would affect their choice of a specific doctor, hospital or medical facility.
And because of this, healthcare organizations should alter their social media strategy from being marketing focused to one that is engaging and interactive with consumers. They should consider providing the same type of healthcare information on their social media sites as they do on their websites.
The study also indicates that patients want tools on social media sites to help them manage and facilitate their healthcare. When asked what types of services they would find valuable if offered in social media, 72% of patients answered the availability of appointments, 71% appointment reminders and 70% said referral to specialists.
The study found that embracing social media potentially could help healthcare organizations reduce workloads by moving some interactions that are currently done by phone or in the office to social media platforms.
As healthcare marketers become more patient focused it’s important to provide information and avenues of access in venues desired and preferred by consumers. One of those areas will be social media networks. Yet another reason to develop and implement stronger social media strategies.