Social Media and Healthcare
The Smith School’s Center for Health Information and Decision Systems (CHIDS)
has several ongoing projects exploring the challenges involved with integrating
social media into healthcare.
One recent study found that physician-rating websites are not particularly
reliable sources of information about practitioner quality. That’s because
patients posting opinions about their doctors online are a lot more likely to
talk about their bad experiences and are more prone to exaggerate their
opinions. So a website might help you weed out the truly awful practitioners,
but it’s not likely to help you find a great one. Researchers also pointed out a
“sound of silence” effect for many patients who don’t choose to post anything at
all about their quality of care.
CHIDS is also looking at the role of online communities in bridging the
rural-urban health divide. Can social networks help increase health literacy and
better connect geographically isolated patients with medical information?
The center is also working with CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, the largest
health care insurer in Maryland, to understand the current state of social media
uses and adoption and provide recommendations on the optimal way to incorporate
social media at CareFirst.
For more information about this research, contact