Finding Sanity in the Madness

Exploring Social Media

AA #1: Social Media in Health Care February 8, 2011

Filed under: Article Review,Health Care,Social Media — karch10k @ 10:30 pm
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Twitter, Facebook, and Other Social Media are Reshaping Health Care

Hawn, Carleen. (2009). Twitter, facebook, and other social media are reshaping health care. (Research Report No. 28.2) Retrieved from Health Affairs website: http://www.content.healthaffairs.org/content/28/2/361.full

The purpose of this article is to expose people to the idea that social media is breaking into new territories such as health care. The article begins detailing how the health care business, although very large and growing, is slow to change in terms of adopting new technology. Some small start up companies are trying to break the mold and attempt to utilize social media to better their services to patients

The example given is Hello Health out of Brooklyn. Hello Health is a small practice that is currently using social media in unique ways to communicate with clients. The attending doctors all have individual profiles on a special network, as well as keep/update blogs for current and preospective patients to see. One example of how this has proven useful to them is when a client of theirs was overseas and suddenly fell ill. Instead of being out of luck, one of the attending doctors at Hello Health was on call. At Hello Health, being on call means more than just answering a phone. The doctors at Hello Health also allow for instant messaging (IM) and video chat with their clients. The man overseas was able to contact his own doctor through a couple emails and instant messages, and eventually got him on video chat to resolve the issue.

While the prospect of having online profiles, and sharing information quickly with yoru health provider, there are issues that the article detailed, and I found to be interesting. The issues here are also prominent roadblocks for using social media in many other areas as well.

  • Investors
    • Investors have a hrad time justifying the need to start up a new type of communication line between client and doctor. The numbers simply don’t exist to back up any current use in health providers.
  • Legal Issues
    • Patients who feel their privacy has been violated is an issue with using social media networks to share information. If information is lost, or accidentally distributed over a network, there can be issues. Social networks also thrive on user inout and data. How can user input and data be done without violating a person’s rights?
  • Standards of care
    • Another issue, and one which I found very interesting, is the line where the standard of care is considered hindered by being over video chat and not in person. Can a doctor be sued because he/she misdiagnosed someone over an instant message? Many states require a doctor to be registered in their state before practicing, but if you have a practice you can conduct over the internet, how does this law work?
  • Privacy
    • HIPAA is a large concern when dealing with patients and patient data over a social network. Doctors would have to walk a fine line between using the network in a positive way and violating rights. This is a major concern and one of the largest reasons why social media in health care is having trouble taking off.

I personally found the article to be very interesting. I like researching social media adoption, and I have personal interests in health care. These two seemed to meet together nicely in this article. The article had a lot of good information on the adoption positives and negatives, but it also has some shortcomings.

The good:

  • Examples
    • Talking about Hello Health really gave me a good idea of how social media can be successfully implemented into health care. I think this is important to discuss because the solution to Hello Kitty being cutting edge seems like an obvious one in hindsight, but they are truly doing something unique.
  • Issues
    • The many issues preventing wide spread adoption of social media into health care is the best part of this article. When I research different fields that all are slow to adopting social media, I like to compare the reasons they state as problematic. Typically, security is one, and I think that could be looped in with legal issues. When you compare all the things social media needs to do to be accepted (security, resolve legal issues, etc) you can begin to understand it’s current limitations.

The bad:

  • Lost in information
    • While I feel like much of the article was useful, there was information that I felt added little to nothing to the central substance of the paper.
  • Errors galore
    • The PDF is littered with grammar mistakes, spacing errors, and other issues. It made getting through the article a bit more difficult/frustrating.

Overall, the article added some insight to a field I am personally interested in. It parallels my interest (recruiting prospective students via different media channels) in that my research has a focus on hwo social media is becoming much more popular. This field is in what seems to be the beginning phases of taking off into social media. It will be very exciting to follow issues like this. For future research, I think the next step would be to cross examine issues that other fields have with adopting social media, compare them, and then see if other fields have conquered the issues.