Hospitals are turning to social media to improve patient care. According to the Wall Street Journal, medical facilities are using social media sites for a variety of uses which include: educating the public about certain conditions, gathering feedback about visits and offering online advice to ailing patients. Some clinics will answer questions about anything, ranging from customer reviews on water ionizers to the handling an ear infection.
One hospital focuses on feedback
The University of Michigan Health System is using social media to gather feedback from patients. A group of so-called "e-advisors" fills out 35 surveys a year through social media. Other hospitals are launching similar programs in an effort to understand more about a patient's experience and what can be done to improve it.
"The avenues through which patient voices can be captured and heard are expanding in rapid and creative ways," says Jason Wolf, president of the Beryl Institute, a membership organization providing grants and resources to help hospitals improve patient satisfaction told the Wall Street Journal.
Virtual advisers, electronic surveys and social media "provide great reach, more rapid feedback and a process for engagement that can have significant impact on efforts to improve the patient experience."
The methods are designed not to gather complaints, but to find solutions, Kelly Parent, patient and family-centered care program manager for the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital and Von Voigtlander Women's Hospital says.
"We make it clear that this isn't just a laundry list of complaints, and we are looking for solutions," Ms. Parent says. "We ask questions ranging from happy and fluffy, like how do you like the food on your tray, to serious things like coping with death and bereavement."
Social media educates young people about new health care law
With the Affordable Health Care Act going into effect, many people are turning to social media to understand what it means for them. All Americans are required to have health insurance under the new law, so insurance companies are turning to social media to attract younger clients, according to iHealthBeat.com.
"They are a huge target for everybody," Nate Purpura, director of communications for the online health insurance exchange eHealth, said. eHealth is working with the federal government to help consumers find the right insurance plans.
Considering all young people must be insured, and they are typically a healthy group of people that don't rack up high medical bills, they're a prime target for every insurance group.
"Young adults are a critical group to enroll," Purpura said.
These are just a few ways the health care system is utilizing social media to its advantage. To learn more about social media and its beneficial role, check out this inforgraphic that breaks down how hospitals use social media.