Should social media be a part of your hospital readmission reduction program? A new study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine correlates high Facebook hospital ratings with higher quality of care in the form of lower all-cause 30-day readmission rates.
The study looked at 679 hospitals that were performing either above or below the national average for all cause 30-day readmission rates, based on Hospital Compare data. Hospitals who had lower than average readmissions had a higher average Facebook rating, while hospitals with high readmissions rates had lower average Facebook ratings. In a press release from study site Massachusetts General Hospital, lead author McKinley Glover, MD, MHS, concluded that “Since user-generated social media feedback appears to be reflective of patient outcomes, hospitals and health care leaders should not underestimate social media’s value in developing quality improvement programs.”
What does this mean for your hospital readmission reduction program? First of all, if you don’t already have a Facebook presence, now may be the time to invest in one. In this study, low-readmission hospitals were more likely to have Facebook pages. And while enabling star ratings on a Facebook page is an optional feature, more than 80% of the hospitals studied offered users the ability to rate their facility on a scale of one to five stars.
Of course further study is needed to determine how Facebook and other social media outlets truly influence the in-hospital patient experience. “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.