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Top Benefits of Social Media in Healthcare

December 9, 2020 - by Mudita Lakhanpal, Webmedy team

When the internet was created, perhaps no one was aware of its potential. Today there is a social media system that brings us close as if time and distance are reduced to zero. It is used by different people for different reasons across the globe. Social media can help to improve an individual's sense of connectedness with real or online communities and can be an effective communication tool. Social media and healthcare are a powerful combination. Social networks have become an important health resource and not just for millennials. Almost 90% of adults have used social media to seek and share health information.

Top benefits of social media in healthcare

  • Raising Awareness

    Social media is a key way to raise public awareness about new, emerging, and annual health concerns. Hospitals are notified immediately via Twitter and Facebook when a tragic incident occurs. This means that they are prepared to treat any injured individual before the tragedy has been publicly reported. Raising awareness about credible sources makes it easier for your followers to counter inappropriate healthcare social media claims they see in posts from their own social connections.

  • Public Health Surveillance

    While social media should never replace traditional data sources for public health data sources and disease surveillance, social media does hold the potential for providing complementary information. Social media data of interest is a set of online communications promoting healthy lifestyles, disease risks, and interventions. Twitter data pertaining to common cold occurrences were found to correlate with seasonal influenza data collected by more traditional sources. These social media trends can help researchers, epidemiologists and healthcare practitioners quantify changes in disease awareness as well as sentiments towards treatment and preventative care. Additionally, social media data can measure reaction to public health messages and campaigns.

  • General Awareness and Medical Information

    People have started using the internet as a means to diagnose themselves and seek help. The available information might not always be authentic, but most of it still provides awareness to health problems because of which people rush to seek treatment before it's too late. Social media provides a prodigious opportunity for healthcare organizations to raise awareness about the most sought-after health problems like diabetes, cardiac diseases, allergies, and geriatric medicine. Patients can search on social media for information on doctors, hospitals, and specialists.

  • Peer Support

    The whole idea of social media is to connect with people. When someone is going through a difficult time of disease, just knowing that there are a lot of people out there who have gone through the same or are experiencing the same problems, provides emotional support to the patient. Social support has been known to show positive health outcomes, with some studies showing that patient's compliance and general health are enhanced when they get support from family and peers. In addition to that, hashtag campaigns on Twitter and Facebook for organ donations and fundraisings have helped people. Furthermore, social media helps in opening conversations about mental health issues.

  • Extensive reach for the Practitioner

    Social media is a great tool to widen your reach and expand your practice as a health care practitioner. A local doctor in a remote rural area may come across a patient with an unusual set of symptoms and may require the opinion of a specialist as soon as possible. Social media can serve as an effective way to communicate for physicians not only to expand their knowledge but also their professional medical network beyond geographical borders. An important thing to keep in mind is that if social media is not used with good judgment and under legal considerations, it can turn out to be a great threat to the practitioner's credibility. The physician needs to be aware of their establishment's rules for social media and also the current legal regulations before posting anything.

Word of Caution: Stay Secure

It's important to put security guidelines in place for your healthcare social media channels. You need to be able to revoke access for anyone who leaves the organization. While most people who use social networking sites are well-intentioned, you need to be careful about the information that you share and how you protect it. People can inadvertently or intentionally use your information to embarrass you, damage your reputation, or even to steal your identity.

Social media provides physicians with tools to share information, to debate health care policy and practice issues, to promote health behaviors, to engage with the public, and to educate and interact with patients, caregivers, students, and colleagues.

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