Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Pinterest, blogs … and the list goes on. Social media is rapidly changing the way the world communicates. It affects everything, from the way people communicate with their friends, children, parents, to even the way doctors communicate with their patients.
Over the summer, I had the privilege to work at a health IT software company as a social media intern. I was very blessed with this great opportunity and learn a great deal about social media in healthcare. Here are some of my findings from the research I took on at my internship.
Social media’s influence on patients
When it comes to social media in health care, doctors and nurses feel pressured to “keep up with the Jones’.” Health care professionals are aware that as the world shifts to digital, they should too. And for good reason – according to an article by Fierce Healthcare, 41 percent of patients are influenced when it comes to choosing a doctor or hospital based on the provider’s social media presence.
Benefits of social media to the patient
As of May, roughly 1,000 U.S. hospitals had a Twitter account, and more than 1,100 hospitals had Facebook. As more hospitals branch out into social media, patients benefit from increased transparency and trust in their health care provider, as well as more relevant and timely health information. For the first time, patients can engage with medical professionals at cyber speed. Twitter chats and blogs provide venues for concerned patients to ask questions and post concerns.
Government health agencies and social media
As the connection between patients and medical professionals via social media and technology grows, government agencies are following suit. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), for example, has developed smartphone apps for tech-savvy patients to find and look up information about their health.
Health care and technology
Growing social media usage is not the only indication of how health care providers are embracing technology. Tablet and smartphone adoption is also on the rise in hospitals, where doctors are using these devices to serve patients better at the point of care. Since 2011, the use of tablets has doubled the amount of health care professionals.
Social media and technology are constantly changing the way society communicates and demonstrating new applications every day. Stay on the lookout for new ways health care professionals embrace technology and comply with evolving social media demands.