|Title||Social Media Landscape of the Tertiary Referral Hospitals in China: Observational Descriptive Study|
|Authors||Zhang, W., Deng, Z., Evans, R.D., Xiang, F., Ye, Q. and Zeng, R.|
Background: Social media has penetrated all walks of life. Chinese health care institutions are increasingly utilizing social media to connect with their patients for better health service delivery. Current research has focused heavily on the use of social media in developed countries, with few studies exploring its usage in the context of developing countries, such as China. Tertiary hospitals in China are usually located in city centers, and they serve as medical hubs for multiple regions, with comprehensive and specialized medical care being provided. These hospitals are assumed to be the pioneers in creating official social media accounts to connect with their patients due to the fact that they appear to have more resources to support this innovative approach to communication and health care education.
Objective: The objective of our study was to examine China’s best tertiary hospitals, as recognized by The National Health Commission of the People’s Republic of China (NHCPRC), and to map out the landscape of current social media usage by hospitals when engaging with patients.
Methods: We examined the best 705 tertiary hospitals in China by collecting and analyzing data regarding their usage of popular Chinese social media apps Sina Weibo and WeChat. The specific data included (1) hospital characteristics (ie, time since established, number of beds, hospital type, and regions or localities) and (2) status of social media usage regarding two of the most popular local social media platforms in China (ie, time of initiation, number of followers, and number of tweets or posts). We further used a logistic regression model to test the association between hospital characteristics and social media adoption.
Results: Of all, 76.2% (537/705) tertiary referral hospitals have created official accounts on either Sina Weibo or WeChat, with the latter being more popular among the two. In addition, our study suggests that larger and newer hospitals with greater resources are more likely to adopt social media, while hospital type and affiliation with universities are not significant predictors of social media adoption among hospitals.
Conclusions: Our study demonstrated that hospitals are more inclined to use WeChat. The move by hospitals from Sina Weibo to WeChat indicates that patients are not satisfied by mere communication and that they now place more value on health service delivery. Meanwhile, utilizing social media requires comprehensive thinking from the hospital side. Once adopted, hospitals are encouraged to implement specific rules regarding social media usage. In the future, a long journey still lies ahead for hospitals in terms of operating their official social media accounts.
|Keywords||Social Media Usage|
|Best Tertiary Hospitals|
|Journal||Journal of Medical Internet Research|
|Journal citation||20 (8)|
|Digital Object Identifier (DOI)||https://doi.org/10.2196/jmir.9607|
|Web address (URL)||http://www.jmir.org/2018/8/e249/|
|Published||09 Aug 2018|
|License||CC BY 4.0|