Following on from last week’s blog about good tweeting, VIVA! Communications thought we’d continue the discussion about healthcare and social media.

We stumbled on an article from online publication, in which they cited some research undertaken by editors at a US health administration education institution into healthcare and social media.

What they found was a valuable breakdown of statistics revealing what types of health-related topics patients are talking about online, whose posts they most want to read among health professionals, who they most trust to share their information with via social media.

The editors concluded from the research that social media is providing a successful vehicle for healthcare providers and patients to come together, something pharmaceutical companies, healthcare organisations and health professionals would benefit from knowing.

Here are some of the research findings:

What patients are talking about online

  • Supporting a health-related cause – 28%
  • Commenting about health experiences or updates – 27%
  • Posting about health experiences or updates – 24%
  • Joining a health-related cause – 20%
  • Tracking and sharing health symptoms or behavior – 18%
  • Posting reviews of medications, treatments, doctors or insurers – 16%
  • Sharing health-related videos or images – 16%

Doctor’s posts are most popular & trusted

  • Doctor – 60%
  • Nurse – 56%
  • Hospital – 55%
  • Patient advocacy organization – 54%
  • Retail pharmacy – 48%
  • Other patients you know – 46%
  • Government organization – 45%
  • Health insurance company – 42%
  • Drug company – 36%
  • Alternative healthcare setting – 36%
  • Gym or fitness center – 34%
  • Other patients you don’t know – 25%

Patients most want to share information about their health with doctors, followed by hospitals

  • Doctor – 47%
  • Hospital – 43%
  • Pharmacy – 40%
  • Health insurance company – 38%
  • Retail health clinic – 33%
  • Alternative healthcare setting – 33%
  • Drug company – 32%
  • Worksite health clinic – 31%
  • Other patients – 30%

1 Comment

  1. Cameron Sugden on August 19, 2013 at 6:03 pm

    Health professionals can become suspicious when their patients arrive at their appointment after a sleepless night on the internet researching their own symptoms. Some are even dismissive of their patient’s personal views, preferring to bypass them completely and get on with the job of providing them with expert advice.

    But, of course, it makes sense that patients – who have the most to gain from correct diagnosis and treatment – are often the most motivated to understand and problem-solve around their own illness. And with more and more people turning to the internet and social media to gain knowledge about their health, it will be increasingly important for health professionals to provide the public with reliable, clear, relevant, and evidence-based health information through these venues. Given that, as this research shows, doctors remain the most trusted source for health information, it is important that health professionals get involved in this dramatic shift in how we gain and understand information.

    I’m employed at a health promotion organization in Tonga, a small island in the South Pacific, where I work with a team of people to distribute evidence-based health information regarding diabetes, heart disease, and cancer throughout the 170 Islands of this small country. While we currently use TV and Radio, this task has still been made difficult by extremely slow internet speeds; often requiring a minute to download a single photo. Viewing Youtube content is impossible. A couple of months ago, however, a new cable was laid between Fiji and Tonga, allowing internet speeds to accelerate by 20 times their previous speed, and at one fifth the cost. Designing and implementing innovative ways to make use of this new resource in hospitals, health clinics, homes and within the general community– whether it be through Skype, YouTube, websites, mobile application – will be enormously beneficial in Tonga, where non-communicable diseases continue to claim large numbers of people. Last month we launched our new website – – which we hope is just the beginning.