Health Information: Social Media’s New Darling?

13 08 2010

When it comes to health information, more and more people are turning to the Internet, and not just to research symptoms.

Increasingly, people are turning to social media for everything from weight management to smoking cessation to exercise tutorials. The jury is still out on the effectiveness of tools like Twitter, Facebook, and mobile applications for the radical behavior modification required to stop smoking, drinking, or eating too much, but the health information landscape has been irrevocably altered by the influence of social media, and vice versa.

When it comes to weightier matters such as fighting infectious disease or increasing communication between doctors and patients, the social media scene is less chock-a-block with information, but most of the heavy hitters, like Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and World Health Organization are represented.

For patients with infectious diseases or other serious conditions, there are many virtual gathering places where peer-to-peer information and experiences are shared. Sites like PatientsLikeMe allow users to self-select using “disease communities,” from Fibromyalgia to HIV/AIDS. PKIDs has a listserv for families whose children have been affected by infectious diseases.

And while it’s far too early to tell whether social media will increase doctor-patient communication, some practitioners have embraced social media tools whole-heartedly –using everything from blogs to Twitter.  A New York practice handles nearly all post-consultation communications virtually (ranging from email to Twitter).

From virtual visits to health research to virtual communities for the chronically ill, the Internet is no longer just a way to check out your symptoms. And social media, with its two-way information sharing, has shifted knowledge-sharing hierarchies the healthcare world used to take for granted.

The Mayo Clinic, the seminal leader in the treatment of disease, recently formed a Center for Social Media.

Could a social media center in your hospital or clinic be far behind?








Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 36 other followers