Population health communication is taking place on social media and patients need credible information in this existing environment. Social media has had a profound influence on population health with the potential for expanding networks, sharing up to date information that can reduce healthcare cost, improve the patient experience, and provide value for care.
Social media is part of our everyday life and patients want to engage using social media tools, email, and text. The “epatients” are projected to have healthier outcomes through share information and connections on social media. In January 2016, 46% of the world has access to the internet and 36% of the world has a social media account (Schroeder, 2017). In 2014, 95% of hospitals in the US are on Facebook and 50% on Twitter (Fernandez- Luque, & Bau, 2015). The data shows more and more of the global population is moving to mobile devices to stay connected, engage, to research treatments to improve and participate in their health.
Digital Health Literacy Is Lacking
Many clinicians do not have time, the use of language, knowledge or skill set to engage with peers and patients on social media. There is a lack of understanding and the risk of using social media that can be mitigated by having polices in place. Moreover, there is a lack of digital health literacy training at the academic level and education for legacy employees to this ever-changing environment of health technology. A patient’s positive social media experience leads to a better a return on investment. There are several ways to calculate conversion rates from engagements to return of investment via Symplur, Twitter analytics, web analytics as well followers. Social media is a powerful tool to share information, educate, to build, connect and engage the health community.
ePatient Leveraging Social Media
Understanding and leveraging social media will allow patients to have access from credible sources explaining drug recalls, vaccine updates, how epidemic diseases are spread, and virtual clinical trials. Clinical practices could review Facebook groups and suggest recommendations to patients, create blogs, participate in disease specific tweet chats and a podcast to disseminate evidence based education. Social media gives clinicians new tools to help patients make informed decisions about healthcare.
The Value of Social Media
Social media provides a new avenue for clinicians to bring value to patients through education, building connections, inform and engage with peers and patients. As the growth of the epatient in population health continues it is necessary to understand how to use and understand social media to engage with patients in their community to have an exchange of knowledge, outreach and information in order to improve quality of care, lower cost and improve the overall patient experience.
Article written by Danielle Siarri aka InnoNurse, WHINN Social Media Ambassador
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