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The premier resource for hospital professionals from Relias Media, the trusted source for healthcare information and continuing education.

Will You Be My Facebook Friend and Have Surgery?

Need patients? Go online. Just ask the University of Pennsylvania Health System, which invested $20,000 in an online advertising campaign last year, according to Kaiser Health News.1 As a result, 36 people came in for consultations, and one patient is on the hospital’s waiting list to get a lung transplant. Each transplant brings in about $100,000 in revenue.

Looking for a lung transplant patient is like “looking for a needle in a haystack,” says Suzanne Sawyer, the health system’s chief marketing officer.1 She points out that only about 60 lung transplants are done annually in Philadelphia.

Only a fraction of the nation’s hospitals are using social media to advertise, according to the report from Kaiser Health News. Inova Health System is one convert. Last year Inova spent about $1,500 advertising its weight loss programs on Facebook for three months.1 Thirty people registered for a weight-loss seminar that was free, and seven of them had the surgery. Those patients helped the hospital system make a $20,700 profit on that surgery in the second quarter last year.

Results from a survey by the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery showed 42% of patients in 2011 receive most of their information about plastic surgery from social media, an increase from 29% in 2010. (See free story about this survey by clicking here.) So find a friend, tweet, and get linked in. Your hospital’s financial future might depend on it! (For more information, see "Are You on Social Media? Your Patients and Staff Are," June 14, 2012.)


1. Galewitz P. Hospitals Finding Patients On Google, Facebook. Kaiser Health News. July 11, 2 012. Accessed at This story was produced in collaboration with The Philadelphia Inquirer.