According to a report from the Pew Internet Project 80% of U.S. internet consumers seek health information online, making it the third most popular activity after email and search engines.
The common goal for all hospitals is patient activation, engagement and education. Marketers need to understand what patients are sharing, how they are sharing it and why.
A survey conducted in June 2011 by Minneapolis marketing research firm Russell Herder “Seeking Social Solace: How Patients Use Social Media To Disclose Medical Diagnoses Online” gives us some answers.
40% of the medical conditions that were disclosed by patients online in 2010 were cancer-related, 16% diabetes and 5% were related to sexually transmitted diseases, according to a research study by Russell Herder.
Unsurprisingly, breast cancer patients had the same number of online self-disclosures as prostate cancer, colon cancer, leukemia, bone cancer, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, lung cancer, skin cancer, pancreatic cancer, testicular cancer and brain cancer all combined.
But where do patients share their personal health stories?
The research found that blogs were the most popular platform to self-disclose diagnoses with 51% of patients using them to share their stories. This was followed by online message boards at 30%, Facebook and Twitter at meager 7%.
What can hospital marketers do to facilitate?
The internet has changed how patients get access to healthcare information and social media is changing how they seek comfort from each other during this trying times.
As healthcare marketers, we must ensure that we offer our patients, not just great care but, access to online forums so they can continue to heal after the leave our hospitals.