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Hospitals Have a Huge Opportunity to Discuss Health Issues With Patients on Social Networks

The opportunity lies in the fact the survey by Summa Health System revealed that “[…] more than 71 percent of those using our health system’s social media platforms already were using social media to seek personal health information”, according to Dr. Vivian E. von Gruenigen, M.D., the primary author of the study and Summa’s medical director for Women’s Health Services.

Because so many people are already using social media to seek health information, hospitals can mingle in the conversations and be where the patients are.


Summa researchers distributed an internet based survey on the hospital’s Facebook®, Twitter, and blog and received feedback from more than 150 respondents. The survey sought to map out the user characteristics of a hospital system’s social media structure, what reasons recipients were using the hospital’s social media pages. The research looked for the gender, race, education and age of the respondents.

FierceHealthcare summarized the survey:

 “The survey revealed some demographic information of its social media users too. An overwhelming 96 percent of them were female and 94 percent were Caucasian, compared to the hospital patient database that reports 68 percent as Caucasian. More of the social media users also had higher education, with 60 percent having a bachelor degree or higher, compared to only 12 percent with a high school degree or lower.”


Hospitals still must be cautious. The Federation of State Medical Boards issued new guidelines on ethics for physicians, including HIPAA concerns and online professionalism.