Social Media “Likes” Healthcare

PwC Report on the Impact of Social Media in Healthcare

On a plane trip last week across the country I finally found time to read through PwC’s April report Social media “likes” healthcare, From marketing to social business. Based on a survey of more than 1000 consumers and 124 health care executives the report provides insight into what some of the largest healthcare providers are doing in the social media landscape. Providing case studies, discussion and recommendations, the report is a must-read for healthcare providers looking to understand the impact of social media on their business.

From a consumer/patient experience findings from the report include:

  • 42% of consumers have used social media to access health-related consumer reviews (e.g. of treatments or physicians)
  • 25% have posted about their health experience
  • 20% have joined an online health forum or community
  • 61% are likely to trust information posted by providers
  • 45% said information found via social media would affect their decisions to seek a second opinion
  • 41% are looking to choose a specific hospital/medical facility
  • 41% are looking to choose a specific doctor
  • 32% are looking to choose a health insurance plan
The top concerns of healthcare organizations related to social media in descending order leading with the greatest concern are:
  • Integrating social media data/analytics into the organization
  • Measuring the effectiveness/linking to ROI
  • Educating staff on how to effectively use social media
  • Keeping up with the pace of technology change
  • Responding to information identified via social media
  • Sharing of patient identifiable information/HIPAA violations
  • Identifying qualified staff to work on social media
  • Decreased staff productivity
The report concludes that “whether you’re a provider, insurer,medical device, or pharmaceutical/life science company, you can benefit from more active online engagement with consumers. In the coming years, thoughtful and deliberate use of social media will be an increasingly important element of the health industry.” For providers the PwC report makes the following recommendations:

Support meaningful use efforts – Proposed Stage 2 Meaningful Use will set the bar higher for communicating health information to patients.  Stage 2 may require eligible hospitals to offer 80% of patients the ability to view and download relevant information via a web-based portal within 36 hours of discharge and have at least 20% of their patient populations accessing information that way.

Define your digital identity – A hospital or physician’s first encounter with a patient is often through its website or web portal.  Determine how you will define your identity in the digital space. Promote your hospital or practice by offering discounts, assisting with appointment scheduling and referrals, and providing forums for patient reviews.

Create clear usage guideline – Patients are increasingly reaching out to physicians in the social media space, creating increased risks around privacy and the sharing of patient identifiable information. Set clear guidelines on the use of social channels for patient interactions to help maintain professionalism and protect patient information. Consider enforcing a standard communication policy outlining which requests and interactions are appropriate.

You can download the full report, interactive charts, accompany webcast and more from PwC’s website.