Healthcare News & Insights

Study: Facebook ‘likes’ an indicator of care quality, patient satisfaction

Hospitals looking for a quick way to gauge the quality of their care may look no further than their Facebook pages.

According to an analysis of New York hospitals published in the American Journal of Medical Quality, researchers discovered a positive correlation between Facebook “likes” and patient satisfaction.

Hospitals that had more people “like” their pages scored higher on patient satisfaction surveys than those with fewer likes.

In addition, the researchers noticed another trend: The higher number of likes a page had, the lower the hospital’s mortality rates were.  And the correlation here was even more significant than the relationship between likes and satisfaction scores.

After looking at data on the hospitals’ 30-day mortality rates from heart attacks, researchers learned that for every 1% decrease in mortality rate, a hospital’s Facebook page had approximately 93 more likes.

A tool for patient feedback

The message seems to be that patients who received better care at a hospital are more likely to go out of their way to use Facebook as a way to share their experiences.

This suggests the importance of reaching out to patients via social media sites like Facebook. Although Facebook likes may not seem like the most accurate indicators of care quality on the surface, they may actually paint a more far-reaching picture of how a hospital is performing overall.

How?

While patient satisfaction surveys are only given to recently discharged patients, people who received outpatient care at a hospital are free to discuss their experience on Facebook. So a Facebook page may serve as a forum for patients who may not have their voices heard otherwise.

Not only can this feedback from patients serve as a rough guideline as to how the hospital is performing, it can also improve the hospital’s reputation among members of the community.

What a Facebook page should include

If your hospital doesn’t have a Facebook page, start putting the gears in motion to create a social media presence through the site.

Hospitals with the most effective Facebook pages don’t just create them and let them languish. They make an effort to get patients and their families engaged in the page so they’ll spread the word to others about the hospital.

Once a Facebook page has been established, there should be a person specifically in charge of its maintenance, posting regular updates, and making sure the info on the page is interesting and of value.

To get the most out of a Facebook page, a hospital must make the effort to keep it current and relevant. Here are some ideas of what to include on a Facebook page to spur interest and interaction:

  • Health tips: From post-discharge care tips to info about safe medication practices, a hospital’s Facebook page can be a source of valuable info to keep former patients healthy – and avoid readmittance.
  • News about the hospital/staff:  Whether your hospital recently received some cutting-edge surgical equipment, or one of your doctors was honored for providing excellent care, sharing info about hospital developments via social media piques people’s interest, and
  • Testimonials: Allowing public comments on the page (with moderation, of course) or seeking recommendations from patients can be excellent fodder for positive feedback about a hospital’s care. Such comments are helpful when proving the quality of your care to prospective patients – or even to payors as meeting quality measures becomes tied to reimbursement.

A few other ideas for creating an effective Facebook page are available from healthcare marketing agencies such as Axial Exchange and BigEye Creative.

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