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A total of 367 hospitals in the US are now using one or more social media tools to reach out to their patients and other stakeholders, according to the most recent analysis from Ed Bennett, a hospital website manager who maintains a site devoted to social media use by hospitals.

Bennett’s periodically updated tally, which is available in spreadsheet format on his website,? shows that this social media use by hospitals and medical centers around the country further breaks down to encompass 186 YouTube channels, 190 Facebook pages, 267 Twitter accounts and 35 blogs.

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Bennett also reported that the use of YouTube and Twitter has grown dramatically over the past several years, though it has tapered off somewhat in the past few months.

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Social Media Influences Patients

The use of social media in hospital marketing likely does not come as a surprise to Ad-ology, which earlier this year released a study that found social media has some type of influence on nearly 40% of recent hospital or urgent-care center patients, with more than half of 25-to-34 year olds reporting they are influenced by it.

In other research related to heathcare and social media, a MarketBridge report on the use of digital marketing in the pharmaceutical industry? found that while pharma lags other industries in their use of social media because of perceived FDA hurdles,? the industry will likely embrace new channels more quickly in the coming years.? The? “Digital Marketing in Pharma” survey, conducted in partnership with? Pharmaceutical Executive magazine, revealed that 45% of executives in this industry feel the need to better understand digital marketing, while 72% planned to invest heavily in digital marketing in the next 12 months.

Studies from Manhattan Research found that online search plays a large role in health-information seeking, and that three-fourths of US nurses recommend health-related websites to patients.

Social media use related to the current US healthcare overhaul debate also is likely to heat up as investments increase across the board in traditional media channels. Figures from the Campaign Media Analysis Group (via MSNBC) reveal that medical providers, businesses and other groups so far this year have spent more than? $110 million on TV ads alone.

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