Hospital Social Media Stats

Update – April 8, 2009

Please see this post for the latest charts – Twitter is now the leading hospital Social Media site


On Saturday, March 14, 2009,  I took a snapshot of Hospital social media activity. Using links from the big list, I  gathered the following data:


  • Account creation date
  • Number of Videos posted
  • Number of YouTube Channel Views
  • Number of Channel Subscribers


  • Account creation date (first update)
  • Number of Updates
  • Number of Followers


  • Number of Fans / Members

Here are some results. The original data is available as an Excel spreadsheet, please email me if you want a copy.

First, take a look at the adoption rate for YouTube and Twitter:

Hospital Social Media Adoption

No surprises here, but it is interesting to see the rapid growth on Twitter. It took 26 months to reach 100 YouTube accounts, and 17 months to get the same number for Twitter. At this pace I expect crossover will happen in the next four to six weeks.

YouTube Statistics:

  • There are 121 YouTube channels, with a total of 4,575 videos.
  • The average number of videos per channel is 38, the median is 19
  • The average number of subscribers is 28, the median is 11
  • The average number of Channel Views is 1,736, the median is 629

Firsts and Mosts:

Twitter Statistics:

  • There are 103 Twitter accounts, with a total of 9,223 updates
  • The average number of updates is 90, the median is 37
  • The average number of followers is 294, the median 202

Firsts and Mosts:

Facebook Stats:

Facebook doesn’t offer much for number crunching. You can’t even figure out when an account was created. The only stat I can track is the number of Fans or Members for a given account.

  • There are 82 Facebook accounts, with the average membership of 821. The median is 163 – which tells you that a few accounts have some high numbers
  • Most Fans / Members – Once again, St. Jude Children’s has the most with 33,252 fans

Want more? The original data is available as an Excel spreadsheet, please email me if you want a copy. Let me know if this is useful to you, and if there are any other statistics that we should follow.

While fun, these numbers don’t address the quality of the programs run by the 190+ hospitals tracked. And in Social Networking that counts for much more than sheer volume.  However, monitoring the growth has some value, and I plan to capture these snapshots at regular intervals (possibly monthly). In six months to year, we should have enough data to see trends.

Why is my hospital not on your list?

Update Feb 26, 2009 – I’ve thought about this over the past few days, and what I said in this post makes no sense. Obviously, I was  wrong – if  Paul Levy isn’t an official spokesman for BIDMC then no one is.

Paul – I apologize for not thinking clearly on this.  Your blog is on the list, it should have been there from the beginning.

(Update Jan 25, 2009 – BIDMC has a new Twitter account)

Earlier today, John from Chilmark Research posted a question about the Hospital Social Network List:

“Curious though in how you define a hospital’s presence. For example, BIDMC here in Boston is not listed on Twitter, yet CEO Paul Levy and CIO John Halamka both have Twitter accts, As spokespersons for this hospital, would they not then be consider using Twitter as an institution”

It’s a good question, and the Levy / Halamka twitter accounts are the strongest challenge to my primary listing rule:

The account must be the “Official” presence of the Hospital on Twitter, Facebook or YouTube.

A personal account, no matter how prestigious, is not the same as the institution standing up and getting involved in social networking. I created this list for a very small, specific audience – the people who run hospital web sites. These folks are working hard to get their organizations engaged with the web in a way that goes beyond traditional marketing.  This list is ammunition for them to show this is not something new, that over 150 hospitals use these tools.

I admire the blogs and twitter updates of Paul Levy and John Halamka, they are truly leaders in this space, but it’s not the same as an official  BIDMC presence.

On the other hand, I think a well-defined restricted list has value, and will complement lists that are more open. (Like the one from Dawson Costelloe)

As always, your comments are welcome.

Health care, Social Networks and the Radio Call-in show

A few days ago, Phil Baumann posted “140 Health Care Uses for Twitter”, a long list of thought-provoking ideas for this tool. The list is great, but he also takes on the usual resistance to these services:

“It’s the 21st Century: let’s be imaginative, determined and innovative. Let’s be remarkable…In the health care industry there is often a fine line between caution and fear. It is the fear of change so common in health care that I hope we can overcome.”

I’ve seen this resistance many times over the past ten years, and it’s always mystified me. The objections are usually over patient privacy, HIPPA and risk management. These are important, legitimate concerns, but concerns that have been addressed by establishing codes of conduct for health care professionals to follow.

Web sites, email, text messaging, blogs, social networks, twitter and the dozens of other Internet services are, at their core, communication tools. The proper behaviors that apply to non-Internet communications also apply to them.

If it’s not appropriate to say something by phone, fax or hand-written letter, then it’s not appropriate for the open Web. The example I use with doctors is the radio call-in show. Let’s say you’re a physician being interviewed about latest treatment options for a particular condition. How do you handle callers to the show seeking medical advice? You certainly don’t diagnose or prescribe over the air. Instead you educate, discuss options and encourage the caller to seek the advice of their doctor.

How is this different from the proper way to interact on the open Web?

As John Sharp, an IT Manager at a major medical center commented in his recent post, Twitter for Health care:

“the innovation will need to be outside of the official channels with individuals as champions on new technology by demonstrating its usefulness.”

We already know how to behave; the innovators in health care will show that these tools simply extend their ability to reach, teach and help people in new ways.

Getting the most from YouTube for your hospital

Do you manage a YouTube channel for your Hospital?

Here some tips for getting the most return for your efforts.

1. Context matters – There are over 5,000 hospitals in the United States. Everyone in your town knows the “University Hospital”, but people outside your region need a little more context. Clearly identify your hospital by full name, and location. Does your channel represent a single facility, or do you post videos for a System? Make sure you add your main website address, and phone number.

2. Who’s running the show? – While you’re at it, identify yourself. Anyone can set up channel on YouTube. Make it clear that your channel is the official YouTube presence for your hospital – list your name / title, or least the department that manages the videos. A contact email or phone is also good idea.

3. YouTube is really a Search Engine – According to ComScore, search volume on YouTube is second only to Google. If you want visibility for your videos, then apply the rules of search engine optimization. Write clear, detailed descriptions of the videos, and be sure to add plenty of tags. Review the search terms that bring visitors to similar content pages on your site and use them as a guide. The video description should also link directly to the right department / service page on your web site.

4. YouTube for nonprofits – If your hospital has 501c3 status, then apply to be become a Nonprofit Channel Partner. This may take a while, and sometimes YouTube’s decisions are arbitrary, but it’s worth the effort. You gain more control over the design and content your channel page, and YouTube ads will not appear on your video pages.

5. Track your traffic with TubeMogul – YouTube recently improved their reporting tool, called InSight, but it still lacks some basic features. TubeMogul offers a free tracking service that is easy to set up and use. In addition to metrics on your videos, you can also track other YouTube accounts. They also offer paid services aimed at organizations with a significant stake in on-line video, but the free service is great for our type of channel.

Those are a few of my suggestions – what’s worked for you?