Health care social media: expectations of users in a developing country

Med 2 0. 2013 Aug 9;2(2):e4. doi: 10.2196/med20.2720. eCollection Jul-Dec 2013.


Background: Affordability, acceptability, accommodation, availability, and accessibility are the five most important dimensions of access to health services. Seventy two percent of the Indian population lives in semi-urban and rural areas. The strong mismatched ratio of hospitals to patients, rising costs of health care, rapidly changing demographics, increasing population, and heightened demands in pricing for technological health care usage in emerging economies necessitate a unique health delivery solution model using social media. A greater disease burden lies in the health care delivery in developing country like India. This is due to the lack of health care infrastructure in the majority of semi-urban and rural regions. New techniques need to be introduced in these regions to overcome these issues. In the present scenario, people use social media from business, automobiles, arts, book marking, cooking, entertainment, and general networking. Developed and advanced countries like the United States have developed their communication system for many years now. They have already established social media in a number of domains including health care. Similar practice incidences can be used to provide a new dimension to health care in the semi-urban regions of India.

Objective: This paper describes an extended study of a previous empirical study on the expectations of social media users for health care. The paper discusses what the users of social media expect from a health care social media site.

Methods: Multiple regression analysis was used to determine the significance of the affect of four factors (privacy, immediacy, usability, and communication) on the usage of health care social media. Privacy, immediacy, usability, and communication were the independent variables and health care social media was the dependant variable.

Results: There were 103 respondents who used the online questionnaire tool to generate their responses. The results from the multiple regression analysis using SPSS 20 showed that the model is acceptable, with P=.011, which is statistically significant on a P<.05 level. The observed F value (2.082) in ANOVA was less than the given value in the F table (2.61), which allowed us to accept the hypothesis that the independent variables influence the dependant variable. The users of social media in India expect that they can best utilize social media through emergency service information. They want to be able to learn the operations of the social media site quickly and expect to know about health camps and insurance collaborations. However, people like to become friends with people with similar interests based on their interests identified.

Conclusions: Health care social media requires intelligent implementation in developing economies. It needs to cater to the expectations of the users. The people in India, especially those in urban and semi-urban regions, are very interested in accepting the system.

Keywords: developing economy; eHealth; health care; networking; online medical advice; online patient care; social media; user expectations.