ABSTRACT: Is It Okay to Choose a Children’s Hospital Based on Social Media Presence? Comparing Social Media Metrics to Hospital Quality.
Social media is becoming an increasingly important communication tool. Hospitals use social media sites to provide the public with accurate and up-to-date medical information, for marketing purposes, and to connect patients with physicians and other patients. Patients use social media to find information about hospitals and providers and to help inform their healthcare choices. However, there are no studies comparing social media presence to hospital quality. Our objective was to determine if there is an association between highly ranked Children’s Hospitals and measures of online social influence.METHODS: We conducted a study of Children’s Hospitals that were ranked in the Top 50 in 10 different specialties by US News and World Report. Hospital quality was quantified using the number of Top 50 rankings for that hospital. Social media presence was quantified using the primary metric of the hospital’s Klout score, a continuous score that is determined utilizing data from multiple social media sites incorporating factors such as followers, interactions and connectivity.RESULTS: A total of 86 Children’s Hospitals were ranked in the Top 50 by US News and World Report in at least one specialty; 65 of which had unique Twitter accounts and were included in this analysis. The median number of Top 50 rankings of the hospitals was 7 rankings (25-75% IQR 3-10). The median Klout score of the hospitals was 53 (25-75% IQR 48-60). There was a significant association between higher number of US News rankings and higher Klout scores (r2=0.24, p<0.001). There was also a significant association between high number of US News rankings and number of Twitter followers (r2=0.26; p<0.001) but not with number of “likes” or number “talking about” on Facebook.CONCLUSIONS: In this study of highly ranked Children’s hospitals, there was a significant association between high social media influence scores and higher numbers of Top 50 US News rankings.CLINICAL IMPLICATIONS: Patients looking for highly rated Children’s Hospitals could reasonably make assumptions based on social media presence.