In 2006, Pew Research Forum discovered that 80% of American adults used the Internet to research medical information. By 2011, data (separately) compiled by Frost and Sullivan and QuantiaMD showed between 87% to 90% of physicians used at least one social media site for personal reasons, with a further 67% to 75% opting for more professional postings. LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, blogging, and the like stand poised to change the face of healthcare in the exact same manner it pretty much did for most other industries. Medical professionals — not just doctors — have discovered some creative (and not-so-creative) ways to apply the technology to many different aspects of their field, meaning savvy, Internet-literate patients should stay on the lookout for what might lay ahead.
PatientsLikeMe serves as a social media site for individuals with various conditions to connect and share their experiences and treatment options that work and do not work for them. As the site grows, so too does participants’ knowledge of what’s happening to their bodies, making it easier for them to communicate with their doctors about possible treatments, rare and common symptoms, and more. In addition, banding together with others in their situation offers necessary comfort and understanding patients might not necessarily receive from even the most well-meaning loved one.
Don’t panic; the vast majority of doctors probably won’t be Alexandra Thran, a Rhode Island physician fined for posting enough information online for readers to recognize her patient. All the same, though, savvy consumers should pay attention to their new and old doctors’ Internet presence for signs of breaking confidentiality. The threat might be minimal, but that doesn’t mean patients should grow complacent when it comes to their health and safety.
In order to counterbalance Big Pharma’s massive social media presence, doctors such as immunologist and allergist Ves Dimov utilize their Facebooks and Twitters to perpetuate more scientific studies proving and disproving the information advertised. Doing so, they feel, will better educate their patients about what drugs they may or may not need when seeking treatment. Be forewarned that many healthcare professionals receive kickbacks, so stay wary of those who seem to eagerly push one specific brand over another. Researching and asking around will dredge up the most trusted professionals speaking on the subject.
Category: Pathology News