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'The Business of Health Care Report'

Social Media’s Impact on Health Care

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I’m Doug Hawthorne, CEO of Texas Health Resources, with “The Business of Health Care Report.”

A recent study from the California HealthCare Foundation found that social media now rival physicians as the leading source of consumer health information. Blogs, podcasts, online forums and discussion boards have allowed consumers to convene groups of people with shared concerns to create health information that is approachable and relevant to consumers.

The online conversations unite patients, caregivers, researchers, physicians, nurses, and others. They talk not only about the realities of living with chronic diseases, but about new treatments, clinical knowledge, and ways of coping. The movement has been termed “Health 2.0”

In addition to sites that specialize in certain health conditions, there are 500 diabetes discussion groups on Facebook. There are more than 35,000 YouTube pages devoted to an aspect of surgery. And there are approximately 2,000 chemotherapy-related photos posted on Flickr. These are just a few examples of the health information available online.

As consumers continue to push the envelope and take a more active role in their health care, providers must educate themselves about the world of social media. Many health care stakeholders are moving toward reaping the benefits of this relationship between social media and health. In the meantime, we should continue to provide accurate and up-to-date health information online, such as the content provided at

For our faith-based family of hospitals — Texas Health Presbyterian, Texas Health Harris Methodist and Texas Health Arlington Memorial — I’m Doug Hawthorne.

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