Facebook v. Twitter: How hospitals use social media

Just 50% of hospitals are on Twitter, study finds

There is widespread use of social media among U.S. hospitals, but the amount of activity on the platforms varies by a hospital's characteristics, according to a study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.

The nation's most social media-savvy hospitals

For the study, researchers examined the relationship between hospitals' social media adoption and use relative to facility characteristics, such as size and location.

The study included 3,371 hospitals that had reported complete data to CMS's Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems survey and the annual American Hospital Association survey. Federal government-operated hospitals and those not considered general medical and surgical centers were not included in the analysis.

The study found that among the hospitals studied:

  • 99.4% had a Facebook account;
  • 99.4% had a Foursquare account;
  • 99.1% had a Yelp account; and
  • 50.8% had a Twitter account.

About half of the hospitals had an account on all four platforms.

According to the study, Facebook could be used to boost the reputation of a hospital or to attract new patients, while Yelp could be used to gauge a patient's experience at a hospital. But the researchers say that "it is unknown which platform may best connect hospitals with patients."  They note that "all social media platforms provid[e] the ability for hospitals to potentially assess quality and other metrics faster than traditional survey formats."

According to the study, hospitals most likely to have the highest rates of social media activity were:

  • Large;
  • Located in urban areas;
  • Not-for-profit entities;
  • Private entities; or
  • Teaching facilities (Slabodkin, Health Data Management, 12/2; Griffis et al., JMIR, November 2014.

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