Social Media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and blogging sites are known to make information viral within seconds. Physicians who embrace social media in healthcare can enhance healthcare services, but are not averse to risks either.
Following are the ways in which social media influences physicians when involved in the healthcare social networking platform
- Promote healthy behavior change in patients: Online interactions, using Twitter or Facebook, with patients, helps educate and even monitor patients health, and prescription follow ups call for better adherence to medication and thereby a more healthy behavior
- Increase Personal Awareness : Via forums and blogs physicians get updated about new discoveries in their field, increased awareness about – new diseases, changing patterns of diseases across the globe, new symptoms, treatments and alternatives
- Peer-peer interactions: When physicians engage in healthcare social network forums with their peers – an exchange of ideas, suitable treatments, healthy debates and discussions on how to manage one’s practice in challenging situations transpires.
- Disseminate credible content: Creating Instructive videos on how to recognize symptoms with precautionary measures, thus making individuals more aware of medical problems especially like cancer related problems of breast cancer, prostrate, or even unhealthy lifestyle changing diseases, enhances better medical education and better decision making
- Crisis Management : Communications using viral mass media can be effectively used during epidemics, vaccination drives, and squashing of rumors from unqualified sources with messages released by prominent physicians on certified healthcare service sites
- Clinical trials and tests: By using online communication, recruiting patients to volunteer for clinical trials and tests reaches a wider audience
- Decrease the Digital Divide: Physicians from more medically advanced places can help their peers in less advanced locations via the internet to share and seek expert advice on puzzling medical problems
- Patient physician relationship : Protecting patients interests and confidentiality while still making maximum use of these new technologies
Following best practices when using online media as suggested by the American College of Physicians (ACP) and the Federation of State medical Boards (FSMB) includes
- Online communications with patients and discussing their medical problems
- Learning to discriminate between professional profile and personal
- Guidelines to protect online personal information, integrate evolving social media in patient care, and ways to conduct online professional conversations in ethically difficult situations.
Social media and healthcare are thus engaging in a symbiotic relationship – each feeding and nourishing information and collaboration between physicians and patients – transforming not just delivery of healthcare to patients but also fostering critical roles for physicians and healthcare services.