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Social media may influence health care decisions in Chicago


Many Chicago residents are active on social media and know that products and services are often the subject of social media ratings. The growing popularity of social media is becoming an important link of communication between business and the general public and is forcing many businesses to have a significant presence on social media to reach out to consumers.

In late 2013, Facebook started giving an option for organizations to allow users to give ratings ranging from one to five stars on their official Facebook pages. Since then, various organizations, including hospitals, have allowed it. Now a study published online in the Journal of General Internal Medicine suggests that hospital ratings on Facebook appear to reflect the current quality of health care.

The study analyzed 30-day re-admission rates for 4,800 hospitals across the United States and found that more than 80 percent of hospitals had re-admission rates within the expected national average range, while seven percent had significantly lower than average readmission rates and eight percent had significantly higher than average re-admission rates.

The study found no significant differences between the low and high re-admission hospitals when it came to size, the number of admissions, expenses and the status of the hospital as a for-profit or non-profit organization. The study also found that major teaching hospitals were more likely to have high re-admission rates. The study did not mention whether any of those re-admissions were related to medical negligence.

The found that hospitals with higher Facebook ratings had less likelihood of an unplanned patient re-admission within the 30 days after discharge, while hospitals with lower ratings had higher re-admission rates. Authors of the study suggested that health care decisions of consumers may be influenced by posts on social media sites by patients and others discussing the quality of health care in a particular hospital.

Source: MedicalXpress.com, "Hospital ratings on social media appear to reflect quality of care, study says," March 12, 2015

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