A Week in the Life of Social Health

Consumer interactions with organizations via Facebook and Twitter

This “week in the life” analysis of health care social media comes from a PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Health Research Institute (HRI) report released today. Looking at one week’s stats from February 2012, HRI researchers found that online health communities on average see 24 times more activity on their social media channels compared to health industry companies.

The most interesting points on the graph are where each type of organization hits its highest level of interaction with consumers. One pharma company saw the most social media activity when it alerted users to a product recall. The post got 12 likes, 47 shares and 12 comments.

The graph doesn’t give any details about what happened, but for an announcement of a generally negative occurrence, the post didn’t seem to get an overwhelmingly negative reaction. The fact that it got any likes, let alone 12, suggests that consumers appreciated the notification. Also, many were able to easily spread the word by sharing the message on their own social media pages.

This is encouraging for certain health care organizations, like pharma and insurance companies, that have been afraid to get into the social media space because they expect to encounter negative conversation there. The week snapshot revealed that 80% of all interactions were neutral and only 5% were negative.

The number of people participating on health communities’ social media sites seems huge — one post received 766 comments. But compare that to numbers from the Facebook pages of companies that are masters of social media, and that number isn’t quite as striking. Yesterday a post on Walgreens’ Facebook page asked, “Yes or no: do you take a daily multivitamin?” The question received 1,048 comments and 1,743 likes. Significant participation is common on the pharmacy’s page, which has nearly 2 million Facebook followers.

The report “Social media likes healthcare: From marketing to social business” involved surveys from more than 1,000 adults and interviews with more than 30 health care executives, independent consultants and lawyers. HRI researchers found that more health businesses are using social media, but they haven’t yet figured out how to take it beyond just a marketing tool. The next step is connecting it to their business strategies.

“Social media is another source of business intelligence that provides information at the aggregate level, not only about what consumers ‘like,’ but what they need, how they behave and when their experiences demand an immediate response,” US Health Information Technology leader at PwC Daniel Garrett said in a release.

“Health organizations can engage IT to integrate social data intelligence with existing systems and processes, yet most are still struggling with how to manage the data from their own clinical systems.”

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