'Strong popularity' of social media seen at U.S. providers

By Molly Merrill
10:08 AM

Seventy-five percent of individuals working at U.S. healthcare provider institutions use social media for professional purposes, according to a new survey.

The Web-based survey was conducted between April and May of 2011 by Frost & Sullivan in conjunction with the Institute for Health Technology Transformation (iHT2).

Key findings of the survey include:

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  • For those who use social media for professional purposes, only one-third use it as a part of their professional obligations.
  • Seventy-four percent of respondents identify social networking sites (e.g, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, etc.) as the most popular type of social media tool used for professional reasons.
  • One-third of institutions do not allow access to social media for employees, typically due to security issues and concerns about employees’ productivity. The majority of institutions that allow access to social media employ some policies to control that access.
  • Most institutions have a specific electronic communications policy in place
  • In total, over half (53 percent) of institutions use either dedicated staff and/or external parties for their social media efforts (38 percent and 19 percent, respectively).
  • The most popular reason cited for the institutional use of various social media tools is related to  marketing/brand awareness and business development purposes.
  • Among the largest proportion of respondents, social media are perceived as meeting or exceeding institutional expectations (60 percent).

“It is surprising that so many respondents are able to access social media tools at work," say the study's authors. "This finding conflicts with many reports recently about the somewhat immature use of social media within the walls of healthcare provider institutions. While these survey results would point to a more robust use of social media tools in provider environments, in general, the larger market trends outside of this small survey indicate that the use of social media within healthcare provider institutions is still in its infancy."

They add that "there are many reasons for this, foremost of which is the fact that many providers are still developing best practices protocols around privacy and security concerns related to sensitive patient information."

Survey respondents consisted of 63 individuals working in various capacities within U.S. healthcare provider institutions, which include public or private hospitals (n=42), physician offices (n=10), and various other patient care settings (n=11).

Information technology professionals represented the majority of respondents across all settings (33 percent of total respondents). Also represented among the total respondents are administration professionals (13 percent), physicians (7 percent) and other healthcare professionals (6 percent).

Social Media Use in U.S. Healthcare Provider Institutions: Insights from Frost & Sullivan and iHT2 Survey was authored by Anna Kuberacka, senior research analyst, customer research; Jake Wengroff, global director, social media strategy and research; and Nancy Fabozzi, senior industry analyst, healthcare and life sciences IT at Frost & Sullivan.

Click here to download the full survey results.

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