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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, according to the Spring 2009 Ad-ology Media Influence on Consumer Choice survey from Ad-ology Research.

Maternity Patients Influenced by Social Media

One of the main reasons why this age group was so heavily influenced is because nearly 30% of their hospital visits are maternity-related, Ad-ology said. Of social media types, forums and discussion boards had a significant influence on 20% of 25-to-34 year olds who recently made a visit for maternity reasons. This according to Ad-ology, suggests that hospitals should target this group with an online space where these parents-to-be can interact.
Direct Mail, Newspapers Influence Older Age Groups

At the other end of the age spectrum, respondents ages 55+ had the highest percentage of recent hospital or urgent care center visits and reported significant influence from direct mail and newspaper advertising, the research found. The most important factors for this age group were quality of care, availability of specialized services, and out-of-pocket costs.

Other key survey findings:

  • Women accounted for approximately 60% of those who researched family doctors online.
  • Quality of care ranks the highest among patients as the most important factor when choosing a hospital or urgent care center.
  • Hospital/urgent care websites had the most influence on 18-to-24-year old patients (53.8%).
  • Of traditional media, TV had the most influence on all respondents (22.3%), followed by newspapers (21.9%).

“Progressive hospitals are already participating in social media through specific micro-sites, social networking, online communities, and targeted online marketing,” said C. Lee Smith, president and CEO of Ad-ology Research. “Urgent care and maternity provide excellent opportunities to connect with younger consumers, and social media is the way to engage this group,” Smith said.

About the survey: The Media Influence on Consumer Choice survey is conducted throughout the year by Ad-ology Research to study online, traditional, and social media influence on buying decisions. For this study, Ad-ology Research surveyed an online consumer panel of 1,213 adults from January 5-8, 2009.

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