With the exponential development of technology in the modern world, there are few disciplines that social media has not presently influenced in some way. It comes as no surprise that social media has taken a chief role in the development of healthcare research, consumerism, and provision. The understanding of the impact of social media on all aspects of health and healthcare is paramount in the continual development of our health systems by providing the most comprehensive care to patients and improving overall public health.
Impact on Patients
As many as 80% of internet users have used social media and other internet resources as a source of information and an interaction platform between other patients and providers. Social media is a valuable tool for patients because it promotes the engagement of communities and empowers individuals to pursue an active role in their care. While social media-driven healthcare is both fascinating and exciting, it does however come at a cost. Mainstream social media is unfiltered, meaning anyone can publish false claims and distribute misinformation. Patients must be able to filter the “good stuff” from the half-truths circulating cyberspace. That’s where healthcare providers and administrators come in to play.
Impact on Providers
Social media can serve as a powerful tool for providers in efficient information distribution, patient education, and practice marketing. Providers need to capitalize on the beneficial aspects of social media to make their practice a more efficient, well-rounded, and cost effective endeavor. Telemedicine serves as an optimal blend of the ease of social media with the prestige of timeworn healthcare systems. Telehealth is the modern day medical practice, and physicians who are not providing it are already behind. Providers can communicate with patients and other medical doctors virtually anywhere and in turn enhance the quality of care.
Most physicians report that the use of social media-like tools serve as outlets for the exchange of beneficial and current information while enabling them to improve the quality and effectiveness of the care they deliver. The patient’s online medical experience is not complete without the provider’s guidance towards reliable, honest information. By incorporating telemedicine into their practices, doctors can apply technology that their patients are already using to offer them the most accurate and comprehensive healthcare experience.
Impact on Public Health
While we already know that the large majority of patients are using some form of social media and internet technology to research and collaborate with online communities on their health, many physicians have been left in the dark. While the growth of telemedicine is at an all-time high, not nearly all physicians are on board yet. The online presence of medical content is increasing every day, and while many of these resources provide patients with valuable information, they can also be a disadvantageous source of misinformation.
The use of social media, online platforms, and telemedicine to provide comprehensive healthcare is not complete without both patients and providers on board. For the quality of overall public health and safety, it is essential that doctors implement telemedicine in their practices to provide their expertise in medical advice and mitigate the amount of propaganda circulating cyberspace. When doctors and patients work together to facilitate optimal medical care commensurate with modern technology, the health quality of the public will improve and surpass current standards.