Social media is a hot topic on anyone’s list these days. But would you trust Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to get information about your health care needs? A third of healthcare consumers in the United States report they regularly do this, according to a recent study by the PwC Health Research Institute.
Some surprising numbers from the study:
- 42% of people check out health-related consumer reviews (including reviews of medications, treatment, hospitals, doctors, and insurers.)
- 46% of all U.S. consumers report they’d be likely to trust information posted online from other patients they know.
- 24% of all U.S. consumers post about their personal health experiences and updates in social networks. In the 18-24 year demographic, this figure jumps to 54%.
- 54% of survey respondents said they’d be comfortable with their doctor going to an online community of doctors to get information to better treat them.
- More than 1,200 hospitals are currently actively participating in social media.
Social networks are the new reference check for patients before they make important health care decisions. Users share opinions on everything from the best doctors and clinics, to symptoms they’re experiencing and the treatments they undergo. Is your benefits communication keeping up with the way today’s patients are getting information?
As you might expect, the group of people most actively consuming and sharing health care information on social networks is the younger generation. But other populations are doing this as well – 11% of those 55-64, 15% of those 45-54, and 18% of those 35-44 have posted content or updates about their own health experiences. An even greater share of these groups are consuming the information posted by others and are supporting health-related causes online.
No matter what the demographics of your company, it’s likely that some of your employees are using social media to drive their health care decision making.
As employee populations continue to grow more and more social in the way they’re communicating, benefits professionals will be challenged to keep up.
Social tools should at least be explored as a part of any benefits communication strategy. Informational blogs and podcasts, social wellness platforms to encourage group competitions [see our recent post on this topic], and user forums have potential to be incredibly valuable and engaging sources of information for employees.
We recently held a webinar called Branding Benefits [& Why Traditional Benefits Communication Falls Flat] to continue the conversation on this topic. Click here to view the recording for more information on this topic.