Patients Using Social Media – Dropping Numbers?

Recently I stumbled upon an article published on titled “Patients Get Social About Their Health”. Based on the title I had a general idea of what I am going to read. I remembered numbers from earlier studies: 61% of the patients in the United States turn to the web for health information, another research said that rate was as high as 80%, 16% Americans use social media to search for medical advice, and more than half of patients sharing information about their conditions do so on blogs.

As a matter of fact, I stopped reading these kind of articles some time ago. As Bryan Vartabedian, MD wrote on his blog,

I’m preparing a new presentation on doctors, patients and information.  I’ve decided that I’m no longer going to display quotes on health search.  I always felt that I had to make the case.  But it’s official:  lots of people search Google for health information.  It’s no longer remarkable.  It no longer changes the way an audience sees things.

I agreed, so I assumed every time I saw an article with the same title about how many people use the internet for health information, I am going to see the same data over and over again, presented maybe in a slightly different way. So when I read the post on, I was surprised. Did the numbers drop? Did patients turn away from social media and other online sources, like blogs? According to the study used in the article as a reference, an carried out by the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions only 11% of American healthcare consumers use social media to find and share health-related information, and 8% of them turn to blogs.

I don’t think studies can be compared, since their sample, their method could be very different resulting in various conclusions. But one thing is for sure: you have to be a little suspicious when finding results that are way off of the regular pattern of past studies. And I am also certain that you can’t state that patients are getting social based on numbers as low as 11% and 8%.




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  1. The digital era of healthcare « h2onlinehu

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