Open Access: A Budget-Friendly Tactic to Build Hospital Social Media Content and Credibility

New health-related research can stir up a frenzy of interest on social media platforms (think of how recently antioxidants or probiotics entered the general public’s vocabulary). When a new finding is reported, social media platforms buzz and hospitals often field calls from reporters seeking physician experts to comment on the latest findings.

Although there are many attributes of social media, one drawback is the difficulty in assessing the credibility of health information due, in part, to the vast amount available on the web.

The public is hungry for credible sources of health information. Using Open Access resources is a cost-effective way to locate new health-related information and use it to engage communities and build your hospital’s reputation as a credible go-to social media source. 

Sharing emerging health-related content

Sharing relevant and current highlights from research journals is a good way to engage your community. Whether it is through a blog, a Twitter feed or your hospital’s Facebook page, being among the first to share emerging health-related content helps position your hospital as a credible and current source for health information and helps foster relationships with community members (from patients to local reporters). Having staff physicians comment on the research can also boost their stature and recognition.

Unfortunately, many of the journal articles where the research is first released are expensive; some scientific journal subscriptions cost more than $20,000 a year according to Open Access Scholarly Information Sourcebook. (There’s currently a movement underway to provide open access to any research funded by the National Institute of Health. You can read David Hill’s article for an overview of the movement or check out a list of researchers involved by going to The Cost of Knowledge website.)

However, there are many health-related resources available through Open Access, a free source where you can access the latest research and share it with your communities. The accessible resources include peer reviewed journals such as: Acta Orthopaedica, Infectious Diseases in Obstetrics and Gynecology, Journal of Foot and Ankle Research, Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, The Journal of Neuroscience and Laparoscopy Today.

Search the Open Access wiki or map

A quick way to see what resources are available via Open Access is through a Wiki that lists the journals in alphabetical order. You can also use the Open Access Map (in a Beta form) and search by location, subject or type of resource (policy, journal or repository).

Although the map is still in formation, if you click on the “list” function and then scroll down, you’ll get a list of the journals and resources available.  Currently, the search function does not take you directly to articles, only the resources.

Sharon Terry, whose two children were diagnosed with a rare condition, believes open access was instrumental as an avenue to learn about her children’s condition and start a support group. She appears in a video advocating Open Source as a “key to transforming health.”

The Open Access license

Open Access documents are covered under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License, which means you may read, copy, or redistribute its contents without fee, permission or registration, as long as you credit OAD as the source.

To insure accuracy, select only peer reviewed journals (usually noted in the description of the journal or editorial board list) and team up with a physician expert who can review your “lay person translation” of the research before releasing it. You can also provide a link to the original article to further enhance credibility (a benefit of open source materials is that you can link to them and they will be accessible to the general public).

Sharing emerging health-related research can help your hospital emerge as a social media leader; and using Open Access makes it a budget-friendly tactic.

How we help

Hive Strategies helps health systems create HIPAA-compliant online communities for better health, lower costs and greater loyalty.

3 replies
  1. Jason Boies
    Jason Boies says:

    Hi Jean, I’ve little to add other than to say good job as usual. Also, as far as open access guides for healthcare, Webicina has recently come out with an Open Access Guide focusing on Social Media engagement for Pharma. Not hospital centric stuff mind you, but still, worth checking out. Good example of the medical community being proactive and trying to get more medical professionals comfortable with the social space. is the link.
    Cheers as always – Jason Boies – Radian6 Community


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