Using Social Media in Healthcare: Preferences of the General Population

Tom H van de Belt* Tom H van de Belt*, Radboud REshape and Innovation Center, Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, Nijmegen, Netherlands
Lucien Jlpg Engelen, Radboud REshape and Innovation Center, Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Center, Nijmegen, Netherlands
Sivera Aa Berben, Emergency Healthcare Network, Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Center, Nijmegen, Netherlands
Steven Teerenstra, Department for Health Evidence, section Biostatistics, Radboud University Medical Center, Nijmegen, Netherlands
Melvin Samsom, Executive Board, Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Center, Nijmegen, Netherlands
Lisette Schoonhoven, Scientific Institute for Quality of Healthcare, Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Center, Nijmegen, Netherlands

Track: Research
Presentation Topic: Consumer empowerment, patient-physician relationship, and sociotechnical issues
Presentation Type: Rapid-Fire Presentation
Submission Type: Single Presentation

Building: Mermaid
Room: Room 3 - Upper River Room
Date: 2013-09-24 11:30 AM – 01:00 PM
Last modified: 2013-09-25

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Background: Nowadays healthcare is increasingly featured by the use of Web 2.0 communication technologies including social media that reshape the way patients and professionals interact. These technologies can be used for a variety of purposes: to instantly debate issues, discover news, analyze research, network with peers, crowd-source information, seek support and provide advice. Interestingly, the implementation of Web 2.0 communication tools is sometimes unsuccessful and in many cases the non-usage attrition rates are high. Although assessing the preferences or needs of potential users of tools is an important step in implementation, little is known about the preferences or needs of the general public regarding the use of Web 2.0 communication tools in healthcare.
Objective: To determine the preferences regarding the use of social media and/or e-health technologies in healthcare of the general population in the Netherlands.
Methods: A cross-sectional survey was disseminated via a popular Dutch online social network. Respondents were asked where they searched for healthcare related information, how they qualified the value of different sources and after their preferences regarding online communication with healthcare providers. Results were weighed for the Dutch population based on gender, age and level of education making use of official statistics. Numbers and percentages or means and standard deviations were presented for different subgroups. One-way ANOVA was used to test for statistical differences.
Results: The survey was completed by 635 respondents and all data were successfully extrapolated to the Dutch population. Internet was found to be the number one source for healthcare related information (82.7%), closely followed by information provided by healthcare professionals (71.1%). One third (32.3%) of the Dutch population searches for ratings of healthcare providers. The most popular information topics are side effects of medication (62.5%) and symptoms (59.7%). One fourth of the Dutch population prefers to communicate with a healthcare provider via social media (25.4%) and 21.2% would like to communicate via a webcam.
Conclusions: Internet is the main source of health-related information for the Dutch population. This corresponds to other studies’ findings involving patients. One out of four persons wants to communicate with their physician via social media channels and it is expected that this number will further increase. Health care providers should therefore explore new ways of online communication and should facilitate patients to connect with them. Future research should aim at comparing different patient groups and diseases, describing best practices and determining the cost- effectiveness.

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