News Feature | March 30, 2015

Facebook Ratings May Reflect True Quality Of Hospitals

Katie Wike

By Katie Wike, contributing writer

Hospitals Delaying Health IT Adoption

According to a recent study, Facebook users’ ratings of hospitals may be an accurate representation of the quality of care provided.

Health IT Outcomes reported hospital rankings varied greatly online, depending upon the source. In fact, some hospitals that ranked at the top on one site were in the bottom on others. Now, a study published by the Journal of General Internal Medicine suggests accurate rankings may be available, of all places, on Facebook.

According to Fierce Health IT, researchers compared the Facebook ratings of 4,800 hospitals with their 30-day readmission rates from Medicaid’s Hospital Compare website. Adjustments were made for hospital size and type. Researchers discovered hospitals with higher ratings on the social media website also had lower readmission rates. Hospitals with the highest readmission rates received the fewest stars from Facebook users.

“We found that the hospitals in which patients were less likely to have unplanned readmissions within the 30 days after discharge had higher Facebook ratings than were those with higher readmission rates,” says lead author McKinley Glover, MD, MHS, a clinical fellow in the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Department of Radiology in an announcement. “Since user-generated social media feedback appears to be reflective of patient outcomes, hospitals and healthcare leaders should not underestimate social media’s value in developing quality improvement programs.”

iHealth Beat reports 93 percent of low-readmission hospitals had Facebook pages. Eighty-two percent of high-readmission hospitals had Facebook pages. Of all the hospital pages, more than 80 percent offered the ability leave a review. Researchers noted that hospital ratings were not affected by how long the page had been operational, the number of “likes” a page had, or the number of times users had visited the hospital.

“While we can’t say conclusively that social media ratings are fully representative of the actual quality of care, this research adds support to the idea that social media has quantitative value in assessing the areas of patient satisfaction – something we are hoping to study next – and other quality outcomes,” says Glover.

“Hospitals should be aware that social media ratings may influence patient perceptions of hospitals and potentially their healthcare choices. Hospitals and other healthcare organizations should also be aware of the potential message they send by not using social media. Members of the general public should be encouraged to provide accurate feedback on their healthcare experiences via social media, but should not rely solely on such ratings to make their health care decisions.”