Social Media in Healthcare - Evidence that Healthcare Stakeholder Groups Use and Engage
A number of credible and recently published sources provide evidence that healthcare stakeholders, especially patients and healthcare professionals, use and engage with social media and public social media in particular. A report by Health Link Dimensions, for example, shows that 29% of physicians, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners in the United States use social media in communicating with other healthcare professionals and that less than 4% use social media in communicating with patients. A report by The Beryl Institute, on the other hand, indicates that 23% of consumers worldwide use information or comments collected from social media when making healthcare decisions.
PATIENTS' USE OF AND ENGAGEMENT WITH SOCIAL MEDIA
- In the United States, the percentage of consumers who use social media to manage health had increased from 23% in 2016 to 35% in 2018.
- Twenty-three percent of consumers worldwide use information or comments collected from social media when making healthcare decisions.
- Thirteen percent of adults in the world use or refer to social media when seeking information about disease symptoms, disease treatments, and healthcare. By country, the percentage is as follows: France (4%), Great Britain (6%), Germany (5%), Hungary (12%), Italy (7%), Poland (9%), Russia (6%), Spain (6%), Sweden (7%), and the United States (12%).
- Among consumers aged 18-24 in the United States, the social media channel most commonly used for sharing healthcare experiences is Twitter, while among consumers aged 25-34 in the country, the social media channel most commonly used for sharing healthcare experiences is Facebook. As far as sharing of healthcare experiences on social media is concerned, consumers aged 25-34 are the most involved, with 60% of them sharing their experiences with hospitals and physicians online.
- Patients in Ireland engage in social media conversations to inform and educate, share experiences, seek information, seek emotional support, raise awareness, address confusion or concerns, and determine treatment affordability.
- Forty-two percent of adults in the United States desire to follow or be friends with their healthcare providers on social media. The percentage is even higher among millennials, with 54% of millennials desiring to follow or be friends with their healthcare providers on social media.
- Forty-three percent of adults in the United States believe it is alright for them to communicate with their physician regarding health concerns via social media either by posting on their physician's social media page or by direct-messaging them. Among millennials, this percentage jumps to 65%.
- Thirty-two percent of adults in the United States have made health-related changes (e.g., changes in diet, exercise routine, or treatment) as a result of what they saw on social media. Also, 15% of adults with children under 18 in the United States have used information on social media to make a self-diagnosis.
- Of healthcare information seekers in the United States, 67% "see healthcare information on social media." These healthcare information seekers, however, do not believe every piece of healthcare information they see on social media. On social media, 83% of those exposed to healthcare information express concern that the information is misleading or incorrect.
- Concern about the accuracy of healthcare information on social media is highest among the Gen Zers and the Boomers, with 91% and 87% of these cohorts, respectively, expressing concern about information accuracy. In contrast, only 84% of the Gen Xer cohort, 80% of the millennial cohort, and 74% of the Silent Generation cohort express such concern.
- Of those exposed to healthcare information on social media, 35% indicate the information is mostly accurate, 27% indicate the information is mostly inaccurate, and 38% indicate they are unsure of the accuracy of the information. Forty-one percent of millennials believe the information is mostly accurate, while only 28% of Boomers believe so.
- Healthcare information seekers believe that, for healthcare information on social media to be credible, the information should (a) be referred to by a physician (43%), (b) refer to a scientific study (38%), (c) be linked to a trusted brand (37%), or (d) be referred to by a reputable research organization or school (36%).
- Thirty-three percent and 28% of healthcare information seekers express a high level of satisfaction with social media influencers and social media groups as healthcare information sources, respectively. The healthcare information sources they are most satisfied with, however, are nurses or physician assistants (66%), eye doctors (66%), pharmacists (60%), dentists (59%), and medical doctors (57%).
HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONALS' USE OF AND ENGAGEMENT WITH SOCIAL MEDIA
- Healthcare professionals in Ireland engage in social media conversations to inform and educate and raise awareness.
- Of physicians, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners in the United States, 29% use social media in communicating with other healthcare professionals, and less than 4% use social media in communicating with patients.
- Even though 88% of physicians and nurses in the United States use social media, only 3.3% of nurses and 10.4% of physicians "contribute to medical forums online". Also, even though 47.5% of nurses and 37.9% of physicians believe information on social media is accurate, 56.8% of nurses and 61.5% of physicians advise patients to research their ailments online.
- In a month, 47% of physicians in the United States report engaging with professional social networks by posting, following colleagues, or communicating with colleagues. Only 7% utilize social media in promoting their practice or communicating with patients.
- Eighteen percent of doctors in the United States recognize the importance of professional social networks as an information source. Of these doctors, 43% are under 45, 39% are female, and 46% typically see more than 100 patients in a week.
- The physician specialties in the United States that find professional social networks important are general surgery (27%), internal medicine (21%), family medicine (20%), nephrology (19%), and psychiatry (19%), while the physician specialties that are exposed to professional social networks everyday are pediatrics (19%), family medicine (15%), internal medicine (14%), rheumatology (14%), and dermatology (14%).
- Pharmaceutical brands in Ireland engage in social media conversations to inform and educate and raise awareness.
- Life sciences and pharmaceutical leaders in Europe (74%), North America (78%), and Asia (54%) use social media in identifying potential patients or patient groups.
- Fifty-five percent of healthcare CEO's worldwide think that the use of social media poses a risk to stakeholder trust.