It’s no surprise that social media is playing a massive role in our healthcare. Not only do patients have the opportunity to interact with their care providers through apps and social networks, but they’re also interacting with fellow patients and caregivers, forming communities where they connect, share experiences, learn and support each other.
Patients are using social media every day to share their opinions and personal experience, as well as to seek guidance around their health decisions. 74 percent of psoriatic arthritis patient influencers who participated in this WEGO Health survey acknowledged sharing their own health information through social media.
Facebook was the most commonly used social platform for sharing health information. More than 15 percent of those surveyed utilize their own Facebook posts, 14.6 percent use Facebook private groups, and another 11.2 percent use Facebook private messages. Similarly, 13.3 percent of patient influencers use Instagram posts as a way to share their own health experiences, with 9.2 percent using Instagram direct messages.
Combined, only 3.3 percent of the 412 psoriatic arthritis patient influencers who participated in this survey do not share their health information with other people in any capacity.
People who use the health information they gather online typically don’t keep all of their findings to themselves. Instead, the life sciences sector is experiencing a surge of online health communities where users (including patients and caregivers alike) actively engage with one another in a digital space to share knowledge, best practices, and personal experiences.
In addition to using online resources to help provide education or understanding, many patients now use digital health communities to help inform decisions on their personal health.
Nearly 30 percent of patient influencers said the guidance they get online is at least somewhat important to how they make personal health decisions. Overwhelmingly, more than 60 percent of psoriatic arthritis patient influencers identified the role of online health communities as being important to extremely important in the decisions they make about their own health, including 63.6 percent who said digital forums are extremely important.
While the popularity of online health communities is undeniable, their influence may be even stronger when users have a preexisting relationship with other members of the forum. As we found, 94 percent of users were likely to extremely likely to share information from a patient influencer with others; 79 percent were likely to extremely likely to share the information they learned with a physician. Familiarity also breeds trust, as respondents were 8 percent more likely to bring what they learned online to a physician when the information came from someone they know.
Check out the infographic below for a more detailed look at our findings.