By Jane Sarasohn Kahn. One in 3 Americans uses social media for health discussions. Health is increasingly social, and PwC has published the latest data on the phenomenon in their report, Social media ‘likes’ healthcare: from marketing to social business, published this week.
PwC polled 1,060 U.S. adults in February 2012 to learn their social media habits tied to health. Among all health consumers, the most common use of social media in health is to access health-related consumer reviews of medications or treatments, hospitals, providers, and insurance plans, as shown in the graph.
Social media enables people to be better health “consumers” by giving them peers’ views on health products and services. Notably, PwC found that 45% of consumers said information found via social media affects their decision to seek a second opinion from another doctor — this, above the 42% of people who use social media to help them cope with chronic conditions, diet, exercise or stress management. Furthermore, 41% of people said information they find via social media helps them choose a specific hospital or physician. And — listen up, pharma and medical device companies, along with health insurance plans – one-third of people said social media influence their decisions about taking certain medications or undergoing specific procedures, or selecting a health plan.
Social media also helps people manage personal health administration, such as making appointments, getting appointment reminders, referrals, and discounts for services (think: Groupon for dermatology), customer service, and determining wait times at emergency rooms.
The report features examples of health industry segment leaders who are successfully engaging in social health, such as Aetna. The health plan offers Life Game, an online social game that engages people in setting and working toward personal wellness goals. What’s notable about this is that health plans haven’t historically been trusted by consumers to get up-close-and-personal with their health. But as health consumers look for useful and well-designed online tools, the health industry can build bridges for both health and trust. (more…)