Social media opens many new opportunities for healthcare organizations to engage consumers and is changing the nature of healthcare interaction, according to a new report by PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Health Research Institute.
The report, “Social media likes health care: From marketing to social business,” called social media activity by hospitals, health insurers and drug companies “minuscule,” and found that while 8-in-10 healthcare companies had a social media presence, health-related community sites had 24 times more social media activity than corporate sites.
“Health organizations have an opportunity to use social media as a way to better listen, participate in discussions and engage with consumers in ways that extend their interaction beyond a clinical encounter,” PwC U.S. health industries leader Kelly Barnes said. “Savvy adopters are viewing social media as a business strategy, not just a marketing tool.”
In addition, the study found that one-third of consumers use social media sites for seeking medical information, tracking and sharing symptoms, and sharing their thoughts about doctors, treatments and health plans. Meanwhile, between 20% and 40% had used social media to find health-related consumer reviews and information about other patients’ experiences, or had posted information about their experiences or joined a health forum or community. Thirty-four percent said information found on social media would affect their decision about taking a certain medication, and 32% said it would affect their choice of a health insurance plan.