Our friends at PwC released the study Social Media “Likes” Healthcare, reporting the significance social media has and can have on consumers making health care decisions.
Their findings show Social Media is influencing decisions for patients about how and when to select health providers. Patients are increasingly using information from social media to assist them in making healthcare choices; such as:
- 45% of consumers said social media would affect their decision to seek a second opinion.
- 40% of respondents reported that information found via social media would affect the way they coped with a chronic condition, their approach to diet and exercise, and even their selection of a specific doctor.
The influence on patients from social networks includes the presence of the health care provider as well. A facility’s social media presence affects purchasing decisions with education levels of the patients contributing to the effect of the influence: Individuals with lower education levels tended to be more influenced by a hospital’s social media presence when making treatment decisions than those with higher education levels.
Regardless of educational or social economic levels, Social Media, the PwC report shows, is significantly affecting health care decisions. On one hand, this isn’t too surprising. Think about how you found your dentist or dermatologist. Probably word of mouth, via a friend or family. Imagine seeing a tweet from a friend that just spent 8 hours in one of two local hospitals. If you have an emergency, isn’t it logical you’ll pick the other hospital, even if you don’t know anything about it?
Due to this significant influence, health care providers need to have policies in place for not only responding to Social Media posts, but to practice: Proactive, “Preventative” Social Media. When it comes to social media, providers should not only do damage control. They should be engaged in the dialogue and even pre-emptively begin the dialogue to influence patients in a positive manner.
You can access the full PwC report here. You may be required to give up the 411 to access the report.