The State of Hospital Social Media Adoption: USA vs. Western Europe infographic takes a closer look at the state of social media as patients increasingly use social media to communicate
Recently a study called, ” Use of Social Media by Western European Hospitals: Longitudinal Study” by Tom H Van de Belt1, MSc; Sivera AA Berben2, RN, PhD; Melvin Samsom3, MD, PhD; Lucien JLPG Engelen1,2; Lisette Schoonhoven2,4,5, RN, PhD provides a deep dive into the increasing adoption of social media in Western Europe in comparison to the United States. The infographic shown below is a visualization of their findings from the study. Several studies reported that social media can improve communication among staff, facilitate networking, attract visitors to the hospital’s website, build the hospital’s brand, and be used for recruitment for research project. Some details on their study include:
Patients increasingly use social media to communicate. Their stories could support quality improvements in participatory health care and could support patient-centered care. Active use of social media by health care institutions could also speed up communication and information provision to patients and their families, thus increasing quality even more. Hospitals seem to be becoming aware of the benefits social media could offer. Data from the United States show that hospitals increasingly use social media, but it is unknown whether and how Western European hospitals use social media.
In this longitudinal study, the study explored the use of social media by hospitals in 12 Western European countries through an Internet search. They collected data for each country during the following three time periods: April to August 2009, August to December 2010, and April to July 2011.
Study included 873 hospitals from 12 Western European countries, of which 732 were general hospitals and 141 were university hospitals. The number of included hospitals per country ranged from 6 in Luxembourg to 347 in Germany. Study found hospitals using social media in all countries. The use of social media increased significantly over time, especially for YouTube (n = 19, 2% to n = 172, 19.7%), LinkedIn (n =179, 20.5% to n = 278, 31.8%), and Facebook (n = 85, 10% to n = 585, 67.0%). Differences in social media usage between the included countries were significant.
Social media awareness in Western European hospitals is growing, as well as its use. Social media usage differs significantly between countries. Except for the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, the group of hospitals that is using social media remains small. Usage of LinkedIn for recruitment shows the awareness of the potential of social media. Future research is needed to investigate how social media lead to improved health care.
[See also: Social Media in Healthcare Infographic]
In health care, patients increasingly use social media to communicate and share information. This is one of the fundamentals of what is described as Health 2.0 or Medicine 2.0 . Patients share their stories and information on social media, which are rapidly indexed by search engines like Google and can be found easily. Seeing that many patients start by performing a Google search, it seems relevant for hospital organizations to be active on social media. For example, 64% of all respondents of an online questionnaire among patients in the United States start by performing a search to analyze their condition . Another reason why hospital organizations should embrace social media is that it may contribute to quality improvements in health care. Active use of social media not only speeds up communication and improves information provision for patients; it allows caregivers to engage patients in the delivery of care, and for caregivers and patients to make decisions collaboratively and improve their relationship . In this way, using social media improves patient-centered care 
A descriptive study performed in the United Kingdom found that 40% of the 152 health care organizations they studied used one or more types of social media, but that there was little interaction with online visitors (eg, patients) . Also, many organizations were simply “seeding” information. In the United States, the use of social media by hospitals has been noted. Bennett documented that 674 hospitals had a Twitter account and 448 were on YouTube . Considering that the United States has a total of 5000 hospitals, around 15.7% of all hospitals in the United States are on Twitter, 20.3% are on Facebook, and 10.9% are on YouTube . However, it is unknown whether and how Western European hospitals use social media. Therefore, the target of this study was to identify the extent to which European hospitals use social media.
[See also: Is Your Hospital Afraid of Social Media?]
Featured image credit: quickmedical.com