Hospitals use Facebook for education, communication

Hospitals in America typically use Facebook to share educational information and communicate with patients, according to a study published May 16 in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.

Healthcare organizations can use social media tools to increase patient loyalty and educate potential consumers. In this study, researchers examined the types of content American hospitals post to Facebook pages.

“The main goals of using social media platforms by healthcare providers such as hospitals and clinics include disseminating health information, tips and advice; promoting health care services and products; managing brand recognition and reputation; and strengthening ties with their audience,” wrote first author Nima Kordzadeh, PhD, and colleagues. “Some of these goals, such as brand management and recognition, are common with organizations in other sectors such as travel and tourism, fashion, and restaurants. Other goals such as educating the community about health issues, promoting monetary and organ donation, and sharing patient success stories are specific to the health care domain.”

 

Researchers collected and analyzed more than 1,700 Facebook posts by 17 hospitals spanning three months. A total of 13 themes were identified and classified into three thematic groups: announcingsharing and recognizing activities. Sharing health accounted for 35.8 percent of posts, and included health tips and advice for community members. Recognizing special days (14.95 percent) and recognizing employees (11.82 percent) were the next two most common themes. Many posts—25.4 percent—contained more than one theme.

“Hospitals use Facebook as an inexpensive way to educate people on health and wellness topics and to communicate different types of information and news to the public audience,” concluded Kordzadeh and colleagues. “Hospitals and clinics that are expanding their social media activities or are starting to embark on social media strategies can use the results of this study to better formulate their activities on Facebook.”