Social media and health care – Battle of the ages

See which age groups are most likely to talk about their health care experiences on a social media channel.

Last week a colleague sent over this comic illustrating a generation even past mine. Technology has changed everything—the way we communicate, receive information and push out information about ourselves and what is plaguing us at the current moment, with an ever apparent #Really hashtag.

As we are all becoming aware, there is not a place to hide when it comes to social media. Even if your organization isn’t using social media, people are having conversations about you…without you. The health care industry is no exception, even though there continues to be a patient privacy issue within platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

In a recent study released by PricewaterhouseCoopers surveying 1,060 U.S. adults, 42 percent of consumers have used social media to access reviews of treatments or physicians while 25 percent have posted about their health experience.

When broken down by age, 54 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 24 and 41 percent of people between the ages of 25 and 34 post about their health care experiences on a social media channel, while only 14 percent of people aged 35 to 44 use social media to communicate about their health care experiences.

In MedCity News , it is pointed out that although consumers are trending toward social media for health care answers, the health care industry is lagging behind in their reach. This is true, as “two out of three health providers and insurers allow individuals to post on their Facebook walls, but fewer than one in three allow the same in the pharmaceutical world.”

To this point, the PWC report also said that only 37 percent of people surveyed trust information from a drug company and only 28 percent are inclined to share information with drug firms.

In the pharmaceutical world, social media channels require a fine balance, as Facebook pages and Twitter feeds are closely monitored by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In fact, early this year the FDA released a list of strict guidelines for pharmaceutical companies to follow. Check out the dueling blogs about this written by my colleaguesAnthony LaFauce and Luke Dickinson.

There are many angles in which social media and health care have negative implications, but I see no end to the forward movement of social networks’ involvement in the health care field. It seems apparent that the health care industry and regulators like the FDA will only grow together with social media as younger generations grow into adulthood.

What do you think about social media and health care joining forces? Is it a security issue? Do you think it is the way of the future? Would love to hear your thoughts!

Ricki McCarroll (@RickiMac) is a digital account executive at Spectrum, one of the nation’s leading independent health and science communications agencies. A version of this article first appeared on Spectrum’s Full Spectrum Blog.

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