By: Mohamed Elawad

A recent report, titled Social media likes healthcare: From marketing to social business, has shown that many healthcare organizations are lagging behind and may be missing out on business opportunities by not integrating social media into their business strategy.

The report by the Healthcare Institute at Price Waterhouse Coopers (PwC), shows that a significant number of consumers are turning to social media to help them make healthcare choices.

PwC surveyed more than 1000 US consumers and 124 members of the eHealthInitiative, a non-profit organization,  and also interviewed more than 30 industry executives.

Among its findings:

  • A third of consumers use sources such as social media, YouTube and online forums to seek medical information, track and share symptoms and review doctors, drugs, treatments, medical devices and health plans.
  • 45% of consumers say that information found through social media would affect their health decisions, 41% their choice of specific doctor or medical facility, 34% their decision about taking a certain medication and 32% their choice of health insurance plan.

While 8 out of 10 healthcare organizations tracked by the Health Research Institute had a presence in social media, community sites had 24 times more social media activity than corporate sites.

Kelly Barnes of PwC says that “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. Savvy adopters are viewing social media as a business strategy, not just a marketing tool.”

Findings of the report also show that companies that are strategic about their use of social media have begun differentiating between social media and social business; using social media as an external component through which to give and receive input and social business as the internal component through which social data is used to improve services.

According to PwC the use social media can lead to instant feedback on products and services, as well as lead to new ideas for innovation resulting in better quality of care, more loyal customers, efficiency and revenue growth.

Source: Press Release