Facebook Will See You Now. Social Media in Healthcare

If you are on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest (to name a few!) like I am, you might find you’re increasingly using social media to validate your assumptions, get intelligence from your friends and get answers to very specific questions. Instead of going to my local search engine and typing in my question about a particular medication – I ask my friends if anyone has any insight. Instead of randomly researching on the Internet for information on a doctor, I see what my friends have to say. Funny enough, before the Internet, that’s how we got advice. Our friends were our best source of information, and we trusted it implicitly because of that relationship.

Social media has bridged the gap between technology and humans. We are back to connecting with each other in meaningful ways, and healthcare is a great example of how that’s happening in real time. Additionally, sites such as PatientsLikeMe.com, which is a social media site dedicated to forming a community around diseases and health, are cropping up to serve more specific healthcare needs. I’m a migraine sufferer and the PatientsLikeMe portal offers all sorts of advice on new therapies, interesting ideas, polls on new approaches, and a community of fellow sufferers with which to commiserate. No more do I have to feel alone in my quest to kill my headaches. I now have a place to connect, research, communicate and learn.

Doctors are also weighing in on social media, realizing that its not just a marketing tool. Having a Facebook page for your practice does more than market your healthcare team. It allows the organization to truly connect with patients, be more responsive to patient questions, provide overall better care, and leverage the connection for insights and research.  According to CDW Healthcare, 87% of physicians between the ages of 26-55 use social media. That’s a massive shift, and the significance will start to play out more and more as doctors realize that social media is the missing link in improved patient care.

Clever medical practices will also start to understand that social media can be an integral part of the onsite patient dialog. Connecting to the right communities, exposing patients to portals that offer insight and a community in which to connect will improve the patient experience and educate in ways the doctor can’t do in a 15-minute appointment. Social media can become the ongoing avenue for healthcare providers to provide a more meaningful and successful way of helping patients.

There is a hyper focus on technology in the healthcare field these days. Physicians are looking to deploy EHR systems, ICD-10 tools, scheduling systems, and the list goes on. All of these tools can help healthcare providers be more effective at their jobs. Adding social media to the list as a strategic tool for improving patient care is a tactic that I predict savvy healthcare providers will deploy in the near future, if not today.

Comments

  1. Reblogged this on Eclectic Pursuits.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. leslie dykeman says:

    This will not be a way I will be maintaining a relationship with my health care provider(s). If these means help practicioners be more effective at their jobs, with all that time savings maybe they can spend a little more than 15 minutes with their patients. (provided they actually LOOK at the patient and not have their face in their portable device.

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  3. Social media also has the (possible) negative (depending on your perspective) impact in that word of mouth can spread like wildfire. If I go to “Dr. X” and s/he mis-diagnoses a simple thing like the flu, it shortly gets around the internet community I spend time in. It has the potential to keep other patients from ever visiting that doctor. On the one hand, I might be a raving lunatic, upset that of all the patients in the world, my doctor be perfect and his/her 1 mis-diagnosis is a death-nell. On the other hand, I’m only one voice. Is my voice valid? There is an old adage in consumer reviews (for things like electronics) – that if EVERY review is five stars, then it smells like someone is posting fake reviews because at least one person should complain or provide a negative comment because odds are you can’t make a product meet everyone’s needs every time. Or, is a lack of negative posts an indication that since no one has anything bad to say, they are just not saying it? (What was it momma always said – if you ain’t got nothing good to say, don’t say nothing at all…..) Again, common sense has to rule. If it smells like a rat, it probably is. But in the world of medicine, one missed diagnosis can be deadly. So the stakes are higher. I’m just saying we all talk to our friends – we still have to use a little common sense. In person, we can read intent or ask. We can’t read intent in cyberspace. // Nothing’s ever as good or as bad as we think it is when we first see it in cyberspace. // Never believe everything you read about, but always read about what you believe in.

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