As many readers will be aware – the LITFL is based in Australia. As such we pay particular attention to the use of social media in the development of local hospital online infrastructure and the implementation of College based online education resources. This month we have researched, reviewed and recorded the social media networks for Australian Hospitals 2012
In 2009 we examined 935 Australian Hospitals. We found that Australia was lagging 12-18 months behind the US in terms of utilising Social Media to facilitate two-way communication; engage the community and relay vital lifestyle and health related information. In this initial survey we found that hospitals were becoming more compliant with organisational websites and directory listings (providing moderately up to date information about their location, contact details and services provided) – but the use of social media and social networks had yet to be embraced.
2009 Conclusion: I expect to see some significant changes over the next 12 months (as per the data from the US). However Australia lags far behind with a paltry 3 hospital blogs, 2 official Facebook accounts and 1 Twitter account.
This 2012 study was conducted to monitor the increased compliance of public and private hospitals with social media and social networking infrastructure to assist the public in providing accurate basic contact details, health resources and the potential for a 2-way conversational feedback loop to enhance the QA cycle.
We used the original list of 935 hospitals from the 2009 study and applied a series of rules to validate, cross-reference and review social media and social network compliance.
Search Engine validation
We reviewed each hospital to confirm we had the correct hospital name and geographical location for each institution. We also recorded the hospital owner and public/private status of the hospital.
- [SearchEngines] The hospital name and location was entered into two popular generic search engines – Google and Bing
- [LocalDirectory] The hospital name and location was then cross-referenced and validated with locally managed, dynamic medical directories – HealthEngine, MyHospitals, APHA
- Validated hospitals were assessed in terms of their online presence, ease of access and accuracy of data. We looked for the presence of a unique landing page for the hospital [LandingPage], self-hosted website on unique URL [OwnDomain] and directory listing with commonly used Australian directory services [Directory]
- The ‘stand-alone’ website/blog for each hospital was examined for external links to the popular social networks.
- [SocialNetwork] The official hospital name was entered into the search function of the social networking sites YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.
- [SocialNetwork] + [SearchEngines] The official name plus the name of the social networking site was then added to the standard search engines
- Those sites with an official [SocialNetwork] presence were evaluated for the number of followers, tweets and @ replies as a measure of engagement
We assessed 935 hospitals in total (as per the 2009 list). 846 institutions were found on web based search as outlined in the methods. 89 institutions were excluded as they had either closed, been combined with another institution, or were simply not able to be located with the web-based search as outlined in the methods.
- 95% of hospitals had a unique Landing page [Private 99%, Public 94%]
- 19% of hospitals had their own domain [Private 52%, Public 8%]
- 13% of hospitals had a Twitter account [Private 45%, Public 3%]
- 11% of hospitals had a Facebook page [Private 38%, Public 3%]
- 10% of hospitals had a YouTube channel [Private 30%, Public 3%]
Looks great doesn’t it? ….but read on!
Analysis of 846 hospitals revealed 111 twitter accounts. On the surface this seems encouraging, but digging deeper into the figures revelas that the 111 accounts is in fact only made up of 24 unique accounts – with only 9 accounts run by individual hospitals
- 10 – Health care groups (making up the bulk of the 111 recorded accounts)
- 5 – Private hospital
- 4 – Public hospitals
- 3 charitable/research foundations associated with a hospital
- …a library and a careers news stream
Disappointingly most of the twitter accounts are news streams offering little in the way of patient/healthcare provider interaction. Most accounts link back to the principle website with a couple identifying the individuals providing the tweets
|610||192||538||Ramsay Health||18/04/12||Health Group||High|
|513||446||321||St Vincents||18/04/12||Private Hospital||High|
|325||220||764||Southern Health||26/03/12||Health Group||High|
|125||63||95||Mater Health||18/04/12||Health Group||Moderate|
|100||97||384||Monash Kids||16/04/12||Public Hospital||Low|
|65||51||30||Western (SA)||2/03/12||Private Hospital||Low|
Similarly the analysis of the initially cheerful 96 Facebook accounts is equally disenchanting. The 96 accounts retrieved actually come from 14 sources with 7 health care groups, 4 private hospitals, 2 charitable foundations and a solitary public hospital.
Of course there are a large number of Facebook groups associated with hospitals, staff groups, private groups, slander groups and disgruntled employee groups…but we were trying to see the hospitals and health care groups taking control of their online identity and harnessing the power of social media…so were only looking for officially sanctioned hospital groups.
|2853||Sydney Childrens Hospital||Foundation|
|1182||Barwon Health||Health group|
|745||SJOG Hospital Subiaco||Private Hospital|
|337||Wesley Hospital||Private Hospital|
|328||SJOG Hospital Murdoch||Private Hospital|
|271||Ramsay Health||Health group|
|267||Alfred Health||Health group|
|253||St Vincents Private||Private Hospital|
|184||Mercy Health||Health group|
|92||Royal Talbot||Public Hospital|
|79||Mater Health||Health group|
|43||Austin Health||Health group|
|34||Cabrini Health||Health group|
Finally YouTube. Again initial review seems hopeful of some interesting YouTube channels with 84 hospitals affiliated directly with a YouTube channel. Unfortunately these accounts are made up of only 8 distinct entities with 5 health care groups, 2 foundations and one private hospital.
|15||19961||48||Mater Health||Health Group|
|3||17291||7||UC Health||Health Group|
|25||11791||21||Alfred Health||Health Group|
|5||7652||9||Cabrini Health||Health Group|
The advent of online resources, free social media platforms, high speed broadband and a strong social networking presence amongst the Australian public has, unfortunately, not been reflected in a marked increase in social media provisions by hospitals in Australia.
We were initially encouraged by the increased numbers of groups associated with social media channels and thought this might have been a tipping point in providing high quality information from medical professionals in Australia to the general public. However we are still a long way from providing the same level of health education and social interaction as the United States. On the whole public hospitals lack interest, lack detail, lack information, and lack social engagement.
Kudos must be paid to those health care groups and hospitals that have made the social media transition and are providing high levels of interactive conversation, health related content and education. These groups are pioneers in Australia and should be applauded. Good examples include South Gippsland Hospital, Alfred Health, Ramsay Health, Austin Health as well as the other sites listed in the documents above. These are good examples of independently hosted websites with lots of high quality information for patients – most have social network channels as well…but all too often fail to give them due prominence on their home pages and so have a lesser impact on true social media engagement.
Exposure and the online digital footprint of a hospital is not about ‘getting more patients‘, but more about increasing the potential of engagement with the community; providing health education and providing accurate and appropriate information for the public. Even simple things like travel arrangements, car parking, hospital visiting hours, contact details and public transport infrastructure are lacking in over 70% of cases.
Nomenclature plays a large part in the difficulty with searching for smaller hospitals. Many of these ‘hospitals’ have been re-branded as ‘multi-purpose services’ and don’t even figure in a standard search result for local hospitals. The advent of social media and the simplicity of creating an online digital presence seems to have been lost in the bureaucratic minefield of public health care, where the responsibility is squarely thrust on ‘somebody else’s shoulders’ or thrown in the ‘too hard basket’.
As a member of the public trying to find relevant information about a particular hospital it is perturbing to find that even rudimentary information such as the hospital name, geographical location, contact details, services provided, and presence of an emergency department are often very difficult to find – especially in the public system. Sadly we are falling way behind the UK public health system in this regard.
- Data table of Australian hospitals and social media accounts
- Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW)
- MyHospitals online resource
- HealthEngine online Australian medical directory
- USA Hospital Social Network list
- Canadian hospital social network list
- UK NHS Choices
- Bureau of Health Information