An analysis of social media utilization among radiology practices reveals that private imaging groups have a greater presence on social networking websites than academic radiology practices. The study and results were published online Feb. 21 in the Journal of the American College of Radiology.
Using social media can be an effective way for radiology practitioners to better connect with their patients and improve the visibility of their practices, according to lead author McKinley Glover, MD, MHS, of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and colleagues. “Social media platforms present opportunities for marketing, business development, and increased patient engagement for radiology,” they wrote. “Maximizing the perceived and real value of the radiologist in care delivery and patient empowerment is a key element of the ACR Imaging 3.0 initiative, one that could be enhanced through strategic use of social media.”
For this study, researchers analyzed and compared social media statistics for the 50 largest private radiology groups and the 50 top-funded academic radiology departments in the country. Private radiology practices were selected using the Radiology Business Journal 2012 ranking of the 100 largest private practices, and only radiology-specific accounts were eligible for inclusion in the study. Date of account creation (and therefore social media adoption) and account prevalence on the websites Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram evaluated for each practice type.
The results showed that 76 percent of private radiology groups maintained at least one social media account on the websites studied, compared to 28 percent of academic radiology departments. Private radiology practices also showed an ability to adopt social media use much earlier, creating accounts on Facebook and Twitter 12-18 months sooner on average than academic imaging departments.
More competitive private practice environments and institutional policies appear to be strong determining factors on an imaging practices’ social media efforts, the authors noted, as well as an absence of consensus among those in the profession on the actual value of social networking to radiology practices.
While some may be slow to embrace new ways of communicating and doing business online, the researchers believe the importance of social media to all imaging practices—private or academic—is too great to ignore. “Use of social media in health care is emerging as mainstream,” wrote Glover and colleagues. “A radiology-specific social media presence will become increasingly important within the landscape of efforts to improve patient engagement in an increasingly patient-centered and competitive health care environment.”
For some tips on how to boost your practice’s social media presence, check out this recent feature from Health Imaging magazine.