As an avid user for Twitter, I have been following numerous physicians, medical students, nurses, biomedical researchers, and other folks involved in healthcare. Coming from someone who used to dislike Twitter as just one of time-wasting social network, I can confidently say that social media has been influencing healthcare in the way that is so unique that it has become another critical aspect of amending healthcare system.
Ultimate Conversation Arena
There have always been two main sides to healthcare system in any country: patients and physicians (and other related professionals). The challenge has been the difficulty in conversation; it is even admitted by physicians themselves that seeing perspective from patients is not an easy task and often becomes possible sometimes when they become patients themselves. To a certain degree, social media paved a way for patients to reach out to their physicians (if they have twitter) and build connections – granted, not a “friendship” that goes into personal life as Facebook does – to see things from other’s perspective and vice versa.
One Physician to Another Physician
A really cool thing that I observed in social media for physicians is the sharing of information relevant to the care. Whether it is about recent article from The New York Times or their personal own blog post about something they feel passionate about, social media has allowed physicians to reach out to another across the globe and discover new ideas and information. This is not to say that healthcare has provided new resource for information about how to deliver better care (such information would risk violation under HIPAA anyway), but simply, a place to feel “connected” in this large system as healthcare. As a side note, social network for physicians DOES exist, but its access is restricted and granted only to practicing |M.D.s and D.O.s (Sermo comes to the mind).
Meeting Place for Hospitals and Organizations
As with any other social issue, the matter of healthcare has expanded significantly in the world of social media because in addition to patients and physicians, hospitals and organizations have made Twitter accounts and Facebook pages to promote their cause. Furthermore, research journals now have Twitter page and post tweets about their latest article and press release. The actions like retweeting and following have greatly impacted the level and degree as to how many people see and become aware of those information – something that was not even thought to be possible few years ago.
Increased Information – and Its Consequences
Needless to say, the joining of healthcare and social media has brought numerous positive features, but it didn’t only come with positive features. In fact, with the increased information about healthcare in social media, concerns have risen that there are often “too much” information – that is, how can one follow with all the latest news reports when there are tweets about new healthcare information literally every couple minutes? In addition, because of integration of social media, laws like HIPAA have led many Twitter accounts to be completely open and cautious about what they show to the public. It is far better to be transparent about the information over social media since nothing is really “private” once it hits the cyberspace.
Still, An Improvement
If there is an agreement about healthcare – whether that is cost, delivery of better care, access, and so forth – it is that there are too many variables to consider, and no single individual or group is capable of amending the system. Social media has allowed various people in their fields to express their opinions. Of course, there are some strongly opinionated and biased beliefs, but even those are valuable in that open discussion can lead to new concerns not perceived before. In the end, it is clear that the social media intervention would lead to longevity of healthy healthcare improvements and enhancements.