The Impact of Social Media in Healthcare
The term social media is defined as a method that individuals can utilize to share content and data through discussion and communication using various different internet platforms. Social media in healthcare has many advantages. It can be used as a tool to communicate effectively with the public, improve the overall patient experience and most importantly increasing the access to care. With advantages, there will also be some challenges. Some challenges will include the privacy and confidentiality of patient health information, professionalism, lack of time, risks of distributing incorrect health information, and cultural problems that could affect the extent to which doctors are prepared to interact with their patients (Al-Qahtani, Alsaffar, Alshammasi, Alsanni, Alyousef, & Alhussaini, 2018).
There are five major roles in healthcare when incorporating social media and they are the patients, physicians, hospitals, payers to include employers and health plans and most importantly health information technology (Davenport, 2014). Each stakeholder plays a different role and has a different responsibility when referring to social media and healthcare. From an ethical standpoint, patients are responsible for their own health and cost control. With social media, a patient can engage and participate in discussions that pertains to their health and to also promote living a healthier lifestyle (Healthcare Reform, 2011). Physicians play a main role in ensuring appropriate healthcare for their patients. Physicians can use social media to develop a professional network, raise personal awareness of news and discoveries, motivate patients and provide the community with health information (De Martino, D’Apolito, McLawhorn, Fehring, Sculco, & Gasparini, 2017). When Hospitals incorporate social media, it will benefit them by increasing revenue, recruiting employees and improving customer satisfaction. With social media platforms such as Facebook, other facilities such as non-profit hospitals can use it to promote health and disease prevention at a low cost while promoting engagement with consumers (Richter, Muhlestein, & Wilks, 2014). Health Information Technology (HIT) and social media working together can patients and healthcare providers to share decision-making and coordinating the proper care. The use of apps for example can help to monitor a patients’ sleep pattern promote healthier living habits. As a result, healthcare expenses can be reduced.
Healthcare organizations are using social media for practice improvement for multiple reasons such as improving visibility in the organization; marketing products and services, providing patient resources and education, but also providing customer support. Studies have shown that using social media can significantly improve a medical center or hospital’s picture and visibility. According to Ventola, in one research study, 57% of customers said that the social media presence of a hospital would have a major impact on their decision of where to go for services (Ventola, 2014).
In conclusion, social media is a tool that is used to provide information and analyze data through multiple platforms. It also helps healthcare organizations with sharing data, engaging with the public and educating and interacting with patients. Practice improvement involves social media to not promote and market products, but also to provide resources for patients and provide quality care.
Al-Qahtani, M., Alsaffar, A., Alshammasi, A., Alsanni, G., Alyousef, Z., & Alhussaini, M. (2018). Social media in healthcare: Advantages and challenges perceived by patients at a teaching hospital in eastern province, Saudi Arabia. Saudi Journal for Health Sciences, 7(2), 116–120.
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