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1 year ago
The Stupid-Simple Way to Pick Your Hospital

You don’t usually turn to Facebook for trustworthy medical advice—but in some cases you should: The more Facebook “Likes” a hospital’s page has, the better its patient satisfaction, according to a new study from the American Journal of Medical Quality.

Researchers compared patron recommendations and 30-day mortality rates to the number of “Likes” received by 40 New York City hospitals with Facebook pages. The study found that fewer “Likes” were negatively associated with a hospital’s quality and patient satisfaction. Even more interesting: every 93 Facebook “Likes” a hospital received corresponded with a one percent decrease in its 30-day mortality rate.

Keep in mind that Facebook doesn’t tell you why someone might “like” a hospital, though. Some patients may do it to simply receive health-related news updates or active feedback from hospital professionals.

When checking out a hospital’s Facebook page, be sure to scroll through the comments sections (if available) and read what previous patients are raving–or complaining–about. This kind of information can be more informative than “Likes” alone, says Nancy Foster, the vice president for quality and patient safety policy at the American Hospital Association.

“That’s critically important because it gives you some sense of what you might find during your hospitalization,” she says.

Beyond checking Facebook, there are a few other ways to gauge patient satisfaction and hospital quality. Before calling to schedule a consultation or procedure, Foster recommends visiting Hospital Compare, which has information about more than 4,000 Medicare-certified hospitals across the country regarding safety, mortality, and re-admission rates. If you’d like to read about others’ first-hand experiences, visit Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems, which reports the results of patient surveys about how quickly physicians and nurses cared for them, the quality of their treatment, and if they were given enough information about their medications.

photo: iStockphoto/Thinkstock
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