My experience with social media and health…

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Social media is ubiquitous.. It sneaks up into pretty much every avenue of our life. As a society we are not a diagnostic challenge; we are tech and social media dependent. A new form of torture may simply be to remove all charging devices and be forced to watch you smart phone approach 0% with no means for salvage.. “But how will I let the world know I am about to eat a gourmet goji berry salad!!??”

In addition to letting the world know when we are eating something, or doing some “quiet meditative yoga” on the beach at sunset (who is that person able to photograph such an introspective moment?) we use social media for everything; to ensure we attend events, remember birthdays, alarm us to upcoming meetings, even alarm us as to when we should leave for the airport given current traffic conditions! And of course health. And I mean real health.. not just the glamorous selfie of unreasonably attractive people “just about to go for a run” #livelifetoday #harderfasterbetter #regretnothing – quick side note, who are these people? Nobody looks like that running do they? I look like there should be medical emergency team on standby..

Anyway I digress.. Yes people with real illnesses trying to manage their conditions and improve their health status.

– 40% of people surveyed (HealthCare Finance News) indicated that social media had a direct impact on which physician or health facility they choose

– 40% also reported that social media directly influenced which health care behaviors they would then engage in relating to their medical condition

– 90% of 18-24 year old’s (Search Engine Watch) trust medical information shared on social media networks (oh dear!!!)

– 60% of doctors feel that social media improves health care delivery through improving transparency and accountability

– 31% of health care organizations (Institute for Health) have a guideline for use of social media for marketing (Stanford hospital has a pinterest account – I still can’t quite understand this one… what do they pin? A picture of a shiny new MRI machine??)

So what lessons can we take away from this? Social media is the platform we now use for pretty much all communications now. So we need to be careful about the accuracy and legitimacy of the information available. While the internet is a very positive thing in many regards for informing and empowering patients, there is the distinct potential for misinformation. Patients are certainly keen to share their story if they feel aggrieved or like they have been wronged in some way. The uncontrolled discrediting of healthcare professionals and healthcare facilities via yelp reviews or other such means is also an incredibly powerful element of social media. The ability to publicize such unfiltered views on mass has not been achievable until now.

Previously you needed to be a bit legit to disseminate information, now anyone can write a blog (even me!) For these reasons I think we need to be careful with social media and how we interpret the information accessible, and try and promote good quality and accurate information.

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3 thoughts on “My experience with social media and health…

  1. Great verbal description of watching your smart phone slowly die (oh no!!!). I love your mix of satirical humor and utilitarianism. You do an excellent job of outlining in my mind one of the key issues with health promotion via social media, legitimacy. According to the statistics you mention, a large percentage of individuals allow social media to directly influence their health behaviors and 90% (wow) of young people trust medical info on these sites. So if social media is becoming such an excellent tool for sharing and accessing health information, do you think their should be regulations on what information can be posted, or better yet, fact checking services/screening tools to better assess the legitimacy of health information disseminated on these sites? How do you think we can promote good quality and accurate information? I know that some social sites, such as couchsurfing.com, have a “verification” stamp that individuals can attain that helps other users to judge their legitimacy. Ebay also has similar feedback ratings for users to view prior to buying a product. Would it be feasible/helpful for healthcare information to be vetted prior to publishing on these sites? At the very least, I think a disclaimer should be required that states “this information has not been verified to be accurate” or something of the sort.

  2. I absolutely love your huge picture at the beginning. Somehow it draws me. Maybe so other images/graphics/pictures thgouhg th eoffice?

  3. I think there’s a blogging future in your crystal ball! Love your personal narrative and humor. Kept finding myself thinking, “Exactly!” As the stats you share demonstrate, this is a critical conversation to have, both in the therapeutic setting and beyond. And part of that dialogue is being inspired to learn more from your post and perhaps motivated to take action..would’ve liked links to the studies cited, and a look at the Stanford Pinterest board, for instance. Good work!

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