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Social Media and Healthcare

About the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business

The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and part-time MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, specialty master's, PhD and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.

Nov 01, 2011


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 Ritu Agarwal.

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