Social Media and Enhanced Health Care Communication

Social Media and Enhanced Health Care Communication by Health Care Professionals is the new dimension of Health care.

The world used to be a place where letter-based communication nestled in the claws of pigeons, and healthcare was a matter of making it across the countryside quickly enough to survive.  What’s changed? Somewhere in the world, nothing. But for anyone reading this, everyone.

Whatever is posted is public knowledge, anywhere in the world, immediately and with perpetuity. This is what makes it so desirable, and at the same time, so risky. Ethical use of social media by professionals has been a hot topic in recent times. The use of these platforms can make it difficult to distinguish an individual’s personal and professional lives, creating a link between the two.  Today’s medical students live online and social media is a part of their everyday lifestyle. Although this is usually for personal use, it’s fast becoming commonplace for professional use, too. Thus said, medical establishments should constantly be developing social media policies and training their staff on proper use and conduct online, whether for personal or business use, because to be frank, that line is already a blurry one.

For health professionals, improper use of social media poses a threat to confidentiality and privacy owed to clients, colleagues and employers. There are moral and legal pitfalls facing anyone using these platforms in a medical context, and it’s important that health care organizations seek ways of training a new generation of nurses and doctors on best practices when using social media for health work.  Thus said, traditional forms of education and information consumption are outdated when one considers which channels the youth are using to get their daily dose. Social media is right at the top, and platforms such as Facebook and Twitter have proven to be great tools when utilised for disaster alert and response, drug safety and, on a liter note, broadcasting infant care tips to new parents.

Companies at the forefront of health care should be enhancing systems of communication that prepare for, respond to, and heal events that threaten any human’s life, and social media is a perfect fit.

A good example of successful Web-based health care is Ushahidi, an open-source platform that used user-generated content during the Haiti earthquake in 2010 to support crisis management by linking health care providers with suppliers. Some victims that were trapped under the rubble even used Facebook to call for help.

The medical world should capitalize on social medias’ ability to give the public real-time information about how their community’s health system is functioning. There is a demand for such interaction from the public, and it shows with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “emergency profile” on Twitter increasing its following from 65,000 to 1.2 million in under one year.

Health Care Communication on these social platforms will be an integral part when educating not only a new generation of medical staff, but a new generation of patients and consumers that are becoming increasingly health conscious.


The Allegra Primary Healthcare solution facilitates service delivery to patients via standardised protocols for immunizations, WellBaby, wound care, family planning and other primary care services. In addition, a full patient history is available during consultations to ensure informed decision making.


Works Cited

South African Medical Association, n.d. Using Social Media: Practical and Ethical Guidance for Doctors and Medical Students. [Online]   Available at: https://www.samedical.org/files/Guideline%20for%20Drs%20Using%20Social%20Media%20febr015.pdf
[Accessed 12 07 2017].

Hawn, C., 2009. Take Two Aspirin And Tweet Me In The Morning: How Twitter, Facebook, And Other Social Media Are Reshaping Health Care. HealthAffairs, 28(2).

Kubheka, B., 2017. Medicine and the Law: Ethical and legal perspectives on use of social media by health professionals in South Africa. SAMJ in Practice, May.107(5).

Raina M. Merchant, 2011. Integrating Social Media into Emergency-Preparedness Efforts. The New England Journal of Medicine, 365(4), pp. 289-291.

Ressler, P. G. G., 2010. Legislative: Nursing’s Engagement in Heath Policy and Healthcare Through Social Media. OJIN: The Online Journaal of Issues in Nursing, 22 10.16(1).

Sarasohn-Khan, J., 2008. The Wisdom of Patients: Health Care Meets Online Social Media. California HealthCare Foundation.

Ventola, C. L., 2014. Social Media and Health Care Professionals: Benefits, Risks, and Best Practices. P&T – Pharmacy and Therapeutics, 07, 39(7), pp. 491-499,520.

If doctors use platforms as work tools that capitalize on the social nature of the media, and utilise the ability to speak directly to an audience that’s already listening, then we’re heading in the right direction.

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