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Social media ratings tied to lower readmission rates

March 16, 2015
by Gabriel Perna
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Curious about readmission rates at your hospital partners? You may want to take a look at their Facebook presence.

Hospitals with a presence and high ratings on Facebook are less likely to have unplanned readmissions, according to a study from researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH).

The researchers analyzed data from Hospital Compare, a website from the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) that publicly lists 30-day readmission rates for 4,800 U.S. hospitals, to reach their conclusion. They looked at the seven percent of hospitals with significantly lower-than-average rates and those with higher-than-average rates, and compared that information against the hospitals’ Facebook presence and ratings.

Low-readmission hospitals were more likely to have Facebook pages than were high-readmission hospitals—93 percent versus 82 percent—and more than 80 percent of those in both groups with Facebook pages provided the five-star rating system. For those who were rated, each one-star increase in a hospital’s Facebook rating was associated with a greater than five-fold increase in the likelihood that it would have a low, rather than a high, readmission rate.

“We found that the hospitals in which patients were less likely to have unplanned readmissions within the 30 days after discharge had higher Facebook ratings than were those with higher readmission rates,” McKinley Glover, MD, lead author and a clinical fellow in the MGH Department of Radiology, said in a statement. “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.” Hospitals should be aware that social media ratings may influence patient perceptions of hospitals and potentially their healthcare choices, he added.

The study was published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.