Facebook ratings can accurately predict hospital treatment success

If you’re wondering whether an upcoming operation is likely to go well, or have a choice about which hospital to go to, you might want to check out Facebook. A new study’s found that Facebook ratings of hospitals accurately reflect their quality – or at least, how likely treatment is to go right the first time.

Facebook starting allowing users to rate organisations, including hospitals, on their pages in late 2013. As Psych Central reports, Dr McKinley Glover from the Massachusetts General Hospital and his colleagues compared hospitals’ rates of readmission with these Facebook ratings.

They looked at data from a website called Hospital Compare, which keeps track of readmission rates for 4800 hospitals in the U.S. Hospitals with low levels of readmission – meaning they’re treating patients well enough that few of them need to come back – were more likely to have Facebook pages. More than 80% of all hospitals on the site offered the option to be rated.

The researchers also found that hospitals where patients were less likely to have unplanned readmissions had higher ratings. Each of a hospital’s stars correlated with a five-fold increase in its chance of having a low readmission rate. (The number of Likes, however, made no difference.)

There’s previously been very little information about the link between social media and treatment quality, but the study concluded that hospitals and other medical centres should take Facebook ratings seriously. Dr Glover says, ‘Since user-generated social media feedback appears to be reflective of patient outcomes, hospitals and healthcare leaders should not underestimate social media’s value in developing quality improvement programs.’

They now want to go on to study whether there’s a link between social media and patient satisfaction, and something tells me there just might be.

Diane Shipley