Maybe you’ve noticed that hospitals are now boasting the number of likes they collect on their Facebook pages. But do the number of likes actually reflect anything that is meaningful to patients? A new American Journal of Medical Quality study finds yes, the patient endorsements can actually signal hospital quality.

When researchers looked at patient satisfaction and 30-day mortality rates, they found that hospitals that had higher patient death rates got fewer Facebook likes. The researchers also found that those who “liked” a hospital on Facebook were more likely to recommend it to others.

Some question the accuracy of such social media trends and how much they can really tell us about hospital quality. Still, as more and more people record their every move on social networks, it only makes sense that they would want to record and share details about any hospital stays that occur in their lives. The reality is, these days, no one is exempt from being reviewed online, whenever and however a social-media users wishes. Hospitals, with their wait times, and historically bland food options, are no exception.

Whether such word-of-mouth recommendations and reviews will actually land on a hospital’s radar and could make it more accountable to higher quality standards remains to be seen.

Only a handful of hospitals have actually entered the social-media universe, as of now, and during the study, which took place in the New York area, researchers found that only about one-half of hospitals actually had a Facebook page. At the same time, more patient advocacy groups are creating a Facebook page and presence.

One such group is ProPublica, a non-profit investigative news group, which manages a Patient Harm Community Facebook page. On this page, some 1,500 members have shared their own stories about experiences with medical mistakes.

Would You engage with your hospital’s social-media pages if it had them?