A ground-breaking study into how European hospitals are making use of Web 2.0 social media tools, such as Facebook, YouTube and Blogs, is to be widened.
So far, the research has shown that Swedish hospitals lead the use of social media tools, with 11% of Swedish hospitals studied using RSS feeds and 4% using blogs. Spanish and Danish hospitals follow closely, with more than 8% using RSS feeds.
The study also shows that Dutch and English hospitals use the widest variety of social networking methods, including Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and particularly blogs (8.13%).
The study of social media use by European hospitals is being carried out by researchers at Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre (RUNMC) in the Netherlands.
The study has already analysed more than 2,800 hospitals across Central and Northern Europe and will continue to extend across Eastern Europe.
The RUNC study is examining what types of methods of social networking tools and techniques are being use European hospitals. Technologies and tools being examined include: RSS feeds, blogs, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and Hyves, a Dutch social networking site.
The study is investigating hospitals identified through local governments, internet sources and from visits to each hospital website.
A letter and email is then sent to each hospital to verify that the information obtained regarding the hospitals use of social networking sites is correct.
Lucien Engelen, the creator and lead researcher of the study at RUNMC, told E-Health Europe: “I wanted to see what the current status was assuming an increase in the use of social media in healthcare, as part of our strong Health 2.0 vision.
He said the significance of social media was its impact as a disruptive technology: “Traditional healthcare is to be disrupted by the use of new processes, relations and finance and most importantly the claim that patients and their families will participate in the own healthcare.”
He added: “In my strong opinion healthcare is no longer to be delivered buildings and hospitals houses but in online healthcare networks, so we have encounter them on also online.” Engelen added the shift to online was already a reality, not prediction for the future.
Countries including France and Austria fall behind with less than one percent of the hospitals studied using either any social networking mechanism.
“There are many interesting differences between the countries, especially the progress they have made lately,” Engelen added.
Engelen said that the preliminary results of the study will be published at their second Health 2.0 conference that will be held on the 12-13th of October 2009 in Nijmegen, Netherlands.