The original purpose of social media was simply to connect with friends and family. Although it’s still used for that purpose, it’s grown to become something much bigger in recent years. Now, individuals, businesses, and even government agencies use social media to share information in real-time.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, social media use has spiked. Although there are lots of problems associated with the overuse of these platforms, they are also doing a lot of good in the world. Social media has the power to positively affect healthcare and help people live better, healthier lives. Here’s how.
Spreading Reliable Health Information
One of the biggest benefits of social media is the ability to share information in real-time. When a public health official needs to make an announcement, provide information to the public, or issue a warning, they can use social media to help ensure that the message reaches as many people as possible, as quickly as possible.
Once someone sees the message, they can share it with their friends or followers and help spread the word. This is especially important during a health crisis when information might need to be updated often.
Social media can also help ensure that people have access to reliable health information. Unfortunately, there are lots of unqualified people on the internet giving out health advice.
The good news is that with the rise of platforms like TikTok, health professionals are stepping up and pushing back against misinformation by creating entertaining and educational content that helps spread reliable health information. In one survey of health professionals, 85% thought that social media could be an educational tool!
Communicating with Patients
For many people, their most comfortable mode of communication is through text or social media. Some healthcare professionals are turning to social media to communicate with patients and their families more quickly.
As long as nurses remain professional and maintain ethical and regulatory standards, social media can be an excellent communication tool that can help patients get the information they need quickly.
Any healthcare professionals using social media for patient communications need to be aware of and compliant with the HIPAA regulations regarding patient data and privacy. Patient data is very sensitive and must be protected. This means that any identifiable health information cannot be shared without permission.
Healthcare Professionals Can Network & Support Each Other
Innovation in healthcare improves when doctors, nurses, and other professionals connect with one another. Social media is a great way for healthcare professionals all over the world to network and help one another. They can build relationships online, ask questions, and learn more about what others in the field are doing. This can lead to key collaborations, advances in medicine, and new strategies.
Social media networking also offers much-needed support for healthcare workers. Their jobs are incredibly stressful, and only those who work in the field can truly understand what it’s like.
Talking to other healthcare professionals about their challenges and struggles can be a good way to blow off steam and feel understood. Support from colleagues can go a long way toward preventing burnout and compassion fatigue, which are common among healthcare workers.
Increasing Professional Development Opportunities
Thought leaders in the healthcare industry offer a lot of value to those in the field, and healthcare professionals can benefit from following their social media accounts to learn more. They can also get updates on conferences and other professional development opportunities so they can improve their medical knowledge and patient care techniques. With social media, it’s much easier for doctors and nurses to stay on top of new developments in the field of medicine and update on best practices.
Additionally, healthcare professionals can get updates from leading healthcare organizations that can alert them to new learning opportunities and keep them invested in ongoing learning.
People who pursue professional development proactively have more opportunities to stay engaged with their work, and with burnout rates so high in the medical field, it’s important to give healthcare professionals every opportunity to stay engaged in their work.
Providing Resources for Young People
Kids and teens spend a lot of time on social media. While this can definitely lead to problems, it also offers an opportunity to engage young people and provide them with critical health information. Social media can lead kids to important health resources and even point them to life-saving hotlines if they are ever in a crisis.
Sometimes, kids don’t feel like they can talk to their parents about certain health topics. Instead, they go online to find answers to their questions. More and more great content on a range of sensitive health topics like mental health or sexual health means that kids and teens are likely to find good information on social media that will help them stay safe and healthy.
Improving Accountability for Health Habits
We know that preventative care is key to living a long and healthy life. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to get people excited about proactively maintaining their health. The good news is that technology is helping to improve accountability and motivate people to be healthier.
What gets people excited is sharing their wins and friendly competition—which is where social media and wearables can come in to help people create healthier habits. Many people now compete within their friend groups to see who can clock the most steps in a week or month, for instance. This kind of social pressure is positive, can lead to better health outcomes, and helps reduce patient numbers in hospitals, which allows doctors and nurses to focus on patients with serious illnesses.
Looking at the Positive
Social media definitely isn’t perfect, but it’s important to consider just how powerful it can be in creating a healthier, safer world. With so much information circulating online, it’s inspiring to see healthcare providers stepping up and using social media for good.
It’s never been easier to share health information so the public can become more informed and get more involved in their own healthcare plans.
About the Author
Ryan Ayers is a researcher and consultant within multiple industries including information technology, blockchain, and business development. Always up for a challenge, Ayers enjoys working with startups as well as Fortune 500 companies. When not at work, Ayers loves reading science fiction novels and watching the LA Clippers.