News Feature | February 3, 2016

Twitter Provides Patient Opinion Insight

Katie Wike

By Katie Wike, contributing writer

following bio conference via twitter

Using patient communication on Twitter, providers may be able to collect data vital to improving engagement.

Although it may seem an unlikely source, Twitter could be a valuable resource for providers looking to collect data on medical errors. Fierce Healthcare IT writes researchers collected more than 1,000 public tweets in English containing key phrases such as “doctor screwed up.”

“Two researchers used criteria to independently review tweets and choose those relevant to patient safety; a third reviewer resolved discrepancies. Variables included source and sex of tweeter, source and type of error, emotional response, and mention of litigation,” explains the report.

According to iHealth Beat, the study found 83 percent of the tweets specified the type of medical error.

  • 23 percent were for diagnostic errors
  • 23 percent were for medication errors
  • 14 percent were for surgical errors

Researchers were not only able to pinpoint the type of medical error, but also able to identify an emotional response in just over half of the 1,006 tweets analyzed.

  • 47 percent expressed anger or frustration
  • 21 percent expressed humor or sarcasm
  • 14 percent expressed sadness or grief

“Twitter is a relevant data source to obtain the patient perspective on medical errors,” researchers concluded in the report, published in the Journal of Patient Safety. “Twitter may provide an opportunity for health systems and providers to identify and communicate with patients who have experienced a medical error.”