While those active on social media aren't shy about expressing opinions on their Facebook pages, how much do their "Likes" really reflect the quality of an organization? American Journal of Medical Quality (a SAGE journal) recently published a study that found that Facebook "Likes" were indeed an indicator of hospital quality and patient satisfaction.
"Findings suggest that Facebook offers an additional resource, beyond surveys, to gauge the attitudes of patient populations," wrote study authors Alex Timian et.al.
Researchers compared the 30-day mortality rates and hospital patron recommendations to the number of "Likes" on the hospitals' Facebook pages from 40 hospitals near New York, NY. They found that Facebook "Likes" were positively associated with patient recommendations and that a one percentage point decrease in the 30-day mortality rate corresponded with almost 93 more Facebook "Likes."
In addition to these findings, the researchers also found that teaching hospitals had a lower number of Facebook "Likes" than traditional hospitals, despite the fact that the staff at teaching hospitals is younger and predicted to be more active on Facebook. The researchers noted that this negative association of "Likes" and teaching hospitals may be a reflection of quality issues at those hospitals.
"Any hospital can start a Facebook page, but those with higher levels of quality and patient satisfaction are more likely to attract "Likes" to their page" wrote the authors. "Public health researchers and hospitals can use facebook "Likes" as a proxy for hospital quality and patient satisfaction."
Materials provided by SAGE Publications. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
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