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Healthcare is a Social Media Feast

In an article about patient portals, the writer comments, “To be honest, I’m not a big fan of calling people and talking on the phone.”  I think this sentence defines the future of healthcare technology and practice.

Healthcare is a highly interactive process.  Social media, the internet, and the on-demand society have redefined most of this interaction.  The statistics and implications regarding social media are staggering.  Kindergarteners are learning on iPads.  Colleges have stopped giving out email addresses.  Generations X and Y consider phone and email passé. Parents have friended their children on Facebook.  Refusing to incorporate these changes into your business is euthanasia for your company.  What does it mean in healthcare?

Thankfully we are already rethinking healthcare.  At least some of it.  Patient portals that facilitate basic appointment scheduling, reminders, prescription renewal, and sometimes access to the patient PHR are a good start.  Giving me the ability to view my immunization records, discharge instructions, and care team information is ideal.  Future features will link my test results to an online encyclopedia written in my language that helps me understand my health and, more importantly, what I need to do to proactively improve.

Creating this vision is not easy.  Much of the information needed is still on paper.  I talked about this in a past blog.  Once we get the majority of healthcare providers digital, the adoption will increase exponentially.

Today, I can manage email, photos, jokes, politics, calendars, contacts, and even directions from my smartphone.  The technology that lets me manage my health is here.   What’s missing is training and motivation.   For decades, the healthcare system taught us to let the doctor own it.  Now, my healthcare needs to become a partnership.  There are many people on my care team who should be using online tools that work my way to get me healthier.

I cannot wait.

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One thought on “Healthcare is a Social Media Feast

  1. Naeem Hashmi

    Agree. We are just in its inception period. This whole ‘social media’ is really interesting and going to revolutionalize the ‘personalized’ care.

    Last week, the very first Massachusetts Datapalooza competition was held. 21 innovators competed with their innovations. Key focus was Patient Engagement/Enablement. through use public and federal health data.

    I was among one of the judges for this competition so got to see/discuss under the hood working/algorithms of the innovations and had good discussions with them.

    There were very neat and innovative use of social media to provide state of the population health. The winner was a young lady who took her depression case into innovation. She described that hormonal imbalance due to birth control meds cause her depression. There are 100s of meds, so which one is right for you. She mined available literature, birth control drug chemistry, and social media content from women who describe their daily situations, symptoms, and their activities… and came out with a web application that helps women and providers to assist in selecting the right birth control med/technique. More on http://www.betterfit.com

    There was also an interesting innovation – mining tweets in real-time to assess the mood of the population… so it was like dynamic heat-map that shows where people are happy, sick, sad, angry etc based on content in their tweets.

    Another was which food is good for you when you have multiple health conditions. Or if you see one food item, is this good for you…many more like that and few real complex for Doctors.

    So the use of social media in health care is just starting …

    Naeem

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