Facebook Ratings May Hint at Hospitals' Readmission Rates

Hospitals with lower rates of 30-day unplanned readmissions tend to have better Facebook ratings than those with higher readmission rates.

Hospitals with lower rates of 30-day unplanned readmissions tend to have better Facebook ratings than those with higher readmission rates.

Considering these results, which were published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, researchers posited that patient satisfaction broadcasted on social media correlates with more traditional measures of hospital quality. Their findings showed that hospital Facebook ratings and metrics from Hospital Care, a component of Medicare.gov’s website, tended to reflect each other.

The researchers gathered data on hospitals’ 5-star ratings on Facebook, 30-day readmission rates, and characteristics such as beds, teaching status, geographic location, and ownership type.

They considered 315 hospitals that performed better than the US national rate on 30-day readmissions and 364 hospitals that performed worse.

The results showed that the better-performing hospitals were more likely to use Facebook (93.3%) versus the lower-performing ones (83.5%). Additionally, major teaching hospitals were about 14% more likely to have higher readmission rates.

Furthermore, a 1-star increase in a hospital’s Facebook rating was associated with a 5-fold increase in the likelihood that it had a lower readmission rate, after controlling for hospital characteristics and Facebook variables.

“While we can't say conclusively that social media ratings are fully representative of the actual quality of care, this research adds support to the idea that social media has quantitative value in assessing the areas of patient satisfaction…and other quality outcomes,” said lead author McKinley Glover, MD, MHS, a clinical fellow in the Massachusetts General Hospital Department of Radiology, in a press release. “Hospitals should be aware that social media ratings may influence patient perceptions of hospitals and potentially their health care choices. Hospitals and other health care organizations should also be aware of the potential message they send by not using social media.”