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42% of U.S. Consumers Use Social Media for Health Care Info [Survey]

  |  April 23, 2012   |  Comments

PWC study: Consumers say info on social networks would affect decisions to select physicians, hospitals.

Two in five U.S. consumers - or 42 percent - say they have used social media to view health-related consumer reviews about treatments, physicians, and medical facilities, according to a PwC Health Research Institute survey. In addition, 41 percent of U.S. consumers say information they find on social networks would affect their decision to choose a hospital or doctor.

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The trend isn't new, though it does seem to be growing, with consumer confidence in the information they are finding through social contacts higher for some people than others.

Ninety percent of respondents from 18 to 24 years of age said they would trust medical information shared by others in their social media networks. This age demographic were also the most apt to share their own personal medical information online; 80 percent said they would, compared to less than half of the older 45- to 65-year-old survey participants.

Health status also played a role in a person's likelihood to engage, trust, and share about health using social media. Those in better health were more likely to trust and share, though their less healthy counterparts were more engaged.

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Those who are updating social contacts on their experiences with health care issues are more likely to share positive experiences than negative, though the difference is slight.

"The power of social media for health organizations is in listening and engaging with consumers on their terms. Social media has created a new customer service access point where consumers expect an immediate response," Kelly Barnes, U.S. health industries leader for PwC, said in a statement. "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."

While a 2010 study condemned the social media landscape as the "Wild West" when it comes to health and medical information, opinions seems to be changing.

This article was originally published on Search Engine Watch.

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