Eysenbach, Powell, Englesakis, Rizo and Stern (2004:1166) noted that over the past few years, there has been a dramatic transformation in the way people communicate with one another through electronic media, with the continued development of Web 2.0 technologies. Drentea and Moren-Cross (2005) added thus;

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The Web 2.0 marks a shift from a one-way conversation to a multi-way conversation, in which users participate as both creators and consumers of web contents. Social media structures include size, reciprocity, complexity, density, homogeneity, reachability and geographic dispersion (p.923).

Rice and Katz (2002:14) asserted that among the variety of places one could find health information is the internet, with as many as four-fifths of users looking for such content online. For instance, a study by Pew Research Centre Internet & American Life Project in 2011 shows that 80% of internet users have looked online for information about health topics such as disease and treatment.Application of Health-Care Information On Social Media Essay

Barker (2008:20) indicated that the social media appears to offer many benefits not available through other means as users see digital media as a means to overcome health disparities. In support of the latter, Hardey (1999:820) noted that the sheer volume and variety of information available online is likely much more than most people have available offline.

Berkman and Glass (2000:5) in their study show the linkages among social networks, social support and health. Through this study, Berkman and Glass indicated how social networks provide opportunities for psychosocial mechanisms, such as social support and social influence, which in turn affect health through health behavioural, psychological, and physiologic pathways.

Access to online information has created an opportunity for non-clinicians and patients to take a more active role in healthcare. To buttress the above assertion, Phelan and colleagues (2004) stated;

Being embedded in a social context where neighbours, friends, family members, and co-workers can generally look forward to a long and healthy life surely contributes to an individual’s motivation to engage in health-enhancing behaviours (p. 267).Application of Health-Care Information On Social Media Essay

According to Cohen and Syme (1985:23), the adoption of social media by health organizations reflects a widespread sense that these tools are increasingly necessary to reach demographics who are abandoning traditional broadcast technologies (e.g., telephones, television) such as teens or a significant portion of the public who are rapidly transforming the manner in which they interact with experts.

Pereira and Bruera (1998:62) noted that social media platforms form an important continuum in terms of how people privately seek health-related information, as well as publicly share such information, respectively. A study by Berger, Wagner and Baker (2005: 1821) shows that the sense of anonymity and privacy that the internet offers leads some internet users to seek sensitive and potentially stigmatizing information through this means.

Ellery and Perlmutter (2001:41) enumerated that a majority of health educators are fast adopting social media. They further emphasised that social media provides an outlet for the publication of health information to consumers, while allowing consumers to respond and contribute to advice that was traditionally only issued by providers.Application of Health-Care Information On Social Media Essay

Social Media
“Social media have invaded health care from at least three fronts: innovative startups, patient communities and medical centers” (John Sharp 2010). The Social Media arena helps the health care system for their planning strategy and their marketing. However, their use is very controversial. There is a discussion about the use of social media in the healthcare settings due to its vulnerability. Even though social media is important for the healthcare development, the security issues will remain big concerns for the healthcare system.
At the same time, health care organizations find challenges in adopting social media. Hospital and medical practices are risk adverse and generally cautious about new technology trends without clear value. There are questions about whether social media use by hospital employees is a waste of time, or even worse, presents risks of violating HIPAA or leaking proprietary information. Hospital IT departments are concerned about security risks, such as the use of tinyurl.com, which can mask malicious Web sites. Privacy concerns, particularly the vulnerability of social media accounts, are also cited as a reason to avoid social media. (John Sharp 2010).Application of Health-Care Information On Social Media Essay

With the advancement of modern technology, social media is increasingly finding use in healthcare delivery and management. Health professionals including doctors, nurses and therapists have adopted social media to communicate with their patients and for health sensitization. Social media can benefit healthcare delivery in a variety of ways including fostering professional connections, patient and community education and promoting communication with patients and families. On the other hand, use of social media in healthcare exposes patients’ data to breaches and leakages creating confidentiality issues. Misuse of patient data results in serious career penalties for negligent medical professionals. Protocols have been established to oversee the use of social medial by health practitioners. The paper seeks to explore the recognized rules that regulate the use of social media, and its risks and benefits. Health professionals should utilize benefits of social media while adhering to confidentiality, privacy, and ethical guidelines for private or professional communications with respect to patient data.

Social media has become an integral part of many healthcare organizations’ marketing and communications strategies. Across the United States, over 99 percent of hospitals have an active Facebook page – and an increasing number are also establishing a presence on platforms like Twitter and Instagram.Application of Health-Care Information On Social Media Essay

Social media is no longer optional. In order to engage with patients on the platforms they use the most, social networking and advertising are critical components of the overarching digital marketing strategy.

Let’s take a look at some of the benefits, challenges, and opportunities that social media presents in today’s healthcare landscape.

The Benefits of Social Media in Healthcare
Social media opens up many opportunities for health systems. It allows organizations to build connections, share discoveries, and develop credibility as thought leaders. Through platforms like Twitter and Facebook, physicians and health systems are able to share relevant health alerts, receive patient feedback, and bolster their brand with a focus on creating trust. By communicating with patients online, hospitals and physicians establish the foundation for a positive relationship. In addition to this, precisely targeted ads via social media platforms assist in personalized patient outreach.Application of Health-Care Information On Social Media Essay

According to a 2018 study, 80 percent of U.S. Internet users have searched for health information online, and 60 percent of social media users trust social media posts by doctors over any other group. By engaging and interacting on the social platforms that their patients frequent, health systems can revitalize their word-of-mouth referrals, improve communication, and provide better care by ensuring that patients continuously engage with the health system.

Challenges and Risks of Social Media in Healthcare
HIPAA Compliance

HIPAA compliance is a paramount concern for all healthcare organizations, especially when it comes to social media. Specifically, health systems are hesitant that a published social media post may violate a patient’s privacy, or that social media may be another vulnerability for hackers or malware.Application of Health-Care Information On Social Media Essay

Fortunately for health systems, HIPAA has released a comprehensive list of social media guidelines that outline how to post information online without violating patient privacy. This primarily involves de-identifying patients by removing information like their name, date of birth, or insurance information. Keep in mind that hospitals can avoid HIPAA compliance concerns simply by getting the patient’s consent to be shared on social media.

Time Constraints

Physicians are typically fully booked every day – if they do have some free time, then hospitals are often quick to assign them last-minute appointments. Already, physicians are only able to spend about 15 minutes with each of their patients, which leaves them little time in the day for relevant social media posts.Application of Health-Care Information On Social Media Essay

Marketing teams can help support physicians by drafting social posts that just need approval. Or, to generate more original content, health systems may want to offer incentives to physicians who post quality content to their social media accounts on a regular basis.


Maintaining an air of professionalism is a concern for the entire healthcare organization, but physicians are exceptionally cognizant of how they are perceived online. Physicians may be concerned that colleagues or patients will lose respect from them if they share inaccurate information, or fear that they may end up at the center of a controversy.

However, if all posts are appropriate and relevant, controversies are unlikely to occur. For additional guidance, healthcare professionals should adhere to The American College of Physicians and the Federation of State Medical Board’s guidelines for healthcare professionals in addition to all legal guidelines. If necessary, health systems should monitor all connected social media pages, and be ready to block or immediately resolve concerns with exceptionally negative users.

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Let’s look at how healthcare organizations should leverage the power of social media:

Healthcare Social Media Tactics
Promote Healthcare-Specific Networks

In this Internet-driven age, patients have a wealth of health and medical information at their fingertips: A quick Google search for rheumatoid arthritis, for instance, yields millions of results. In some cases, the best way to learn about coping with a health condition is by swapping stories and advice person-to-person on a forum.

One example of a patient-powered research network like this is PatientsLikeMe. Co-founders Jeff Cole and Ben and James Heywood set out to configure a way for patients to manage their own health conditions, changing the way the industry conducts research and improves patient care.

Cole and Heywood founded PatientsLikeMe based on the trial-and-error experience their brother went through during his fight with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). They wanted to connect with patients coping with ALS and track how they handle their own day-to-day care. Today, with over 600,000 members, their network has grown to include patients with a diverse range of diseases and conditions.Application of Health-Care Information On Social Media Essay

These patient-powered platforms utilize the enormous reach of social media to connect target groups with one another – and with reputable, capable health systems. On these networks and forums, patients can explore care methods, learn from one another, and freely share their experiences with various medical conditions and health systems.

Live Tweet to Educate Patientsusing social media in healthcare for heart bypass

A primary reason why healthcare organizations participate in social media is to help educate patients. They want to educate the public about innovative research and tips for staying healthy.

Frequent social media posting, like live-tweeting, provides numerous opportunities for education and engagement, boosts user authority and popularity, and works as a platform to showcase positive aspects of healthcare organizations.Application of Health-Care Information On Social Media Essay

In 2013, St. Vincent Charity Medical Center live-tweeted a total knee replacement surgery, in which over 3,800 people followed on Twitter and 3,000 over live-stream video and their hashtag #stvknee was a trending tag throughout the process. The following year, Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto live-tweeted a procedure for a heart bypass.

Include Hashtags to Engage in Conversations

To get the most out of their social media engagement efforts, we recommend leveraging relevant hashtags. Hashtags first became popular on Twitter, introduced as a way to link conversations and commentary on similar topics for simplified user search and popularity tracking. Today, hashtags are used on numerous social platforms – including Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and others. patient engagement on social media

With the continuous flow and discovery of health information, hashtags offer both patients and physicians the ability to streamline their search across an entire social media platform. The utility of these hashtags is illustrated below by a volunteer organization, the Breast Cancer Social Media (#BSCM) Community. Using the hashtag, users can search #BSCM and access an entire world of support, guidance, and information – not just from fellow patients, but also the professional advice from clinicians and researchers.Application of Health-Care Information On Social Media Essay

To find hashtags that your health system can contribute to in a meaningful way, consult a hashtag database like Symplur. With this resource, healthcare organizations can find trending hashtags on conferences, diseases, research, and other generalized topics. This information can then be used to inspire social posts that reflect what patients are currently searching for. Application of Health-Care Information On Social Media Essay

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