Saturday, April 17, 2010

Health Communication And Social Media

A brief note to mention something really interesting, but still in the works. The last two weeks, I've participated in an online Twitter discussion regarding health care and social media. These conversations tend to be focused on one or two issues, but have started me thinking more about what this medium could provide over time.

I have 2 major questions right now:

1) what do patients want from health care providers on social media? Do they want providers to act as information aggregators, or is the hope that providers will provide direct patient interaction?

2) how can health care providers find good patient-centered resources to follow? I understand that interest and professional groups have accounts, but how many can one follow and really stay on top of things?

I think this is a conversation that is in the early stages and, if to reach maximal benefit, would require major discussions of issues such as online privacy/confidentiality, the HIPAA privacy laws, provider liability, etc.

Not something with any definite answers, but an interesting set of questions.

2 comments:

Rachel said...

Another intent of patients may be to use social media to offer their providers expanded information, context, a fuller picture of themselves or their children (for whom the provider is caring). Such information might help providers practice in more culturally appropriate, family-centered ways. Families may also seek to (or may unintentionally) supply providers with information about other community based supports, which could of course lead to more of a medical home.
~ Rachel

mark said...

It seems, from some discussions I've heard, that many patients and families would like to have a deeper/more connected relationship to their health care providers. I agree that the more we understand about our patients, and about community resources, the better care we can provide.

One of the difficult issues, though, is figuring out issues of boundaries. How much conversation or information is too much? At what point do we move from a patient/provider relationship to one where the lines blur?

I think patient-centered medical homes will require having a social media presence--for the practices, but also for providers. I think it is still up for discussion as to what this presence will involve and what it will look like.