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Who’s using a Hospital System’s Social Media Page and Why?

Date: 05.02.2012
Contact: Jennifer Farquhar Phone: (330) 375-4930

SAN DIEGO, Cali., May 2, 2012 – As the popularity of social media rises, more and more businesses – from educational institutes to manufacturers to even hospital systems – have turned to new media as a way to communicate with consumers and stakeholders. Nearly 1,200 hospitals across the country have added some form of social media, be it Facebook, Twitter, or blogs their communications efforts.

 “We found in our research that more than 71 percent of those using our health system’s social media platforms already were using social media to seek personal health information,” said Dr. Vivian E. von Gruenigen, M.D., the primary author of the study and Summa’s medical director for Women’s Health Services. “Hospitals have a huge opportunity to discuss health issues with patients and answer questions on these platforms, particularly Facebook®.”

Summa researchers distributed an internet based survey on the hospital’s Facebook®, Twitter, and blog and received feedback from more than 150 respondents. The survey sought to map out the user characteristics of a hospital system’s social media structure, what reasons recipients were using the hospital’s social media pages. The research looked for the gender, race, education and age of the respondents.

Of the survey respondents (n=156: n=53 Facebook®, n=8 Twitter, and n=110 women’s health blog), 95.5% are Female and 4.5% are Male; mostly age 50-59 (33.8%) and 40-49 (26%); and 93.6% Caucasian with no Hispanic or Latino background, whereas the hospital patient database reports 68% Caucasian. Of the survey respondents, 60% reported having a bachelor degree or higher, whereas only 12% reported only having a high school degree/equivalent or lower. However, compared to hospital databases, 93% of patients have a high school degree/equivalent or lower and only 3% have a bachelors or higher in the women services population. Social media was used to seek personal health information 71.5% (n=103), to seek family health information 29% (n=42), and for hospital programming 27% (n=39). Respondent groups less than 49 yrs. of age were statistically (p=0.02) more likely to seek personal health information using social media compared to age groups 50 yrs. and older.

The research titled “Characteristics of a Hospital System Based Social Media Platform,” was selected for a poster presentation at the 60th Annual Clinical Meeting of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in San Diego from May 5 to 9. Vivian E. von Gruenigen, M.D., Michele L. McCarroll, Ph.D., and Jae Eun Chung, Ph.D., are authors.

The poster will be on display from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. on May 8 in Exhibit Hall H of the San Diego Convention Center at station 17. A representative from Summa will be available to answer questions or interviews can be arranged before, after or during the conference with the authors.

Dr. von Gruenigen is also an invited speaker at the Junior Fellows Luncheon regarding “Social Media for Successful Practice” at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront Hotel on May 7 at 1:45 p.m.

About Summa Health System
Summa Health System is one of the largest integrated healthcare delivery systems in Ohio. Encompassing a network of hospitals, community health centers, a health plan, a physician-hospital organization, a multi-specialty physician organization, research and multiple foundations, Summa is nationally renowned for excellence in patient care and for exceptional approaches to healthcare delivery. Summa's clinical services are consistently recognized by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (Magnet® status), U.S. News and World Report, Thomson Reuters and The Leapfrog Group. Summa also is a founding partner of the Austen BioInnovation Institute in Akron. For more information, visit or find us on Facebook at and Twitter at