The Benefits of Utilizing Social Media in the Health Industry

I recently read an article discussing the use of social media in the health industry.Since we work with medical practices and hospitals, it struck my attention.  It spoke of future generations and their attraction to technology; this time by communicating to patients and the public through social media. Some doctors still shy away from using social media sites because of the permanence of internet posting, though it has proved to be beneficial to our community.  With the vast amount of people checking sites like Facebook and Twitter frequently, some doctors have started to utilize social media as an easy way to disseminate credible information.. Below are two examples from the article that proved social media sites to be helpful tools in communicating to the public.

In 2010 Pediatrician Natasha Burgert started blogging about child health care for parents that were coming to her confused and frustrated about misinformation they received from the internet. Burgert saw it as her responsibility to provide parents with helpful (and credible) guidance and support by creating her blog. She said in the article that referring to her relevant blog posts in an email to patients is easier and less time consuming than calling each patient with responses to questions.

Also using social media to help the community is the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They utilize Facebook and Twitter to discuss health issues such as the effects of smoking, obesity, and tips to prevent illness. By connecting in real time to a wide reach of people, the CDC is able to detect disease threats that are being spread. An example of their success was when they were able to locate the source of an illness through Facebook posts from victims suffering from flu-like symptoms (a whirlpool spa).

Though using social media to spread awareness, the health industry must be careful with the information they share. There have been legal cases against doctors that share patient information publicly over the internet, and all emails to patients have to be over secure networks. We here at Vertical Solutions always advise the practices who work with us to “look before you leap” when implementing a virtual communication for patient care plan. In short, be safe, blog/post/ tweet frequently, and keep us up to date on the  health information we should know about!