Do Patients “Like” Good Care? Measuring Hospital Quality via Facebook
While those active on social media aren’t shy about expressing opinions on their Facebook pages, how much do their “Likes” really reflect the quality of an organization? This study found that Facebook “Likes” were indeed an indicator of hospital quality and patient satisfaction. Researchers compared the 30-day mortality rates and hospital patron recommendations to the number of “Likes” on the hospitals’ Facebook pages from 40 hospitals near New York, NY. They found that Facebook “Likes” were positively associated with patient recommendations and that a one percentage point decrease in the 30-day mortality rate corresponded with almost 93 more Facebook “Likes.”
In addition to these findings, the researchers also found that teaching hospitals had a lower number of Facebook “Likes” than traditional hospitals, despite the fact that the staff at teaching hospitals is younger and predicted to be more active on Facebook. “Any hospital can start a Facebook page, but those with higher levels of quality and patient satisfaction are more likely to attract “Likes” to their page” wrote the authors. “Public health researchers and hospitals can use facebook “Likes” as a proxy for hospital quality and patient satisfaction.”
With the growth of Facebook, public health researchers are exploring the platform’s uses in health care. However, little research has examined the relationship between Facebook and traditional hospital quality measures. The authors conducted an exploratory quantitative analysis of hospitals’ Facebook pages to assess whether Facebook “Likes” were associated with hospital quality and patient satisfaction. The 30-day mortality rates and patient recommendation rates were used to quantify hospital quality and patient satisfaction; these variables were correlated with Facebook data for 40 hospitals near New York, NY. The results showed that Facebook “Likes” have a strong negative association with 30-day mortality rates and are positively associated with patient recommendation. These exploratory findings suggest that the number of Facebook “Likes” for a hospital may serve as an indicator of hospital quality and patient satisfaction. These findings have implications for researchers and hospitals looking for a quick and widely available measure of these traditional indicators.
Timian, A., Rupcic, S., Kachnowski, S., & Luisi, P. (2013). Do Patients “Like” Good Care?: Measuring Hospital Quality via Facebook American Journal of Medical Quality DOI: 10.1177/1062860612474839