Thursday, April 14, 2011

Doctor Facebook

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...Image via CrunchBaseI think I would like this one... will this eventually lead to Facebook medicines and pharmacy?

Dayton Business Journal - by Brittany Hart, DBJ Staff Reporter
Date: Sunday, March 20, 2011

Interacting with friends, posting photos and updating status changes are common practices on Facebook.

But now more users are relying on the social networking site for health information.
In fact, 41 percent of people said they use social media as a health care resource, according to a National Research Corp. survey of nearly 23,000 U.S. residents. Most of them -- 94 percent -- said they turned to Facebook for medical content such as diet and exercise tips and health education videos. And some respondents even said the information was likely to impact their future health decisions.

With more citizens turning to social media for health care decisions, hospitals and other health care providers are taking steps to ramp up their social media presence.

Patients are using these social media sites for multiple purposes such as:

  • To view health education videos;
  • Get diet and exercise tips;
  • Learn about upcoming health events; and
  • Study disease awareness and
  • Health statistics.

And thousands of patients are flocking to the health agencies' social media pages because, unlike traditional Web sites, they allow users more ways to quickly interact with staff and other patients -- from watching videos featuring doctors giving health advice to commenting on a health agency's Facebook wall about the treatment they received at the facility.

Among health care providers with Facebook pages, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's site has more than 80,000 fans, while the American Cancer Society has nearly 226,000 fans.

Recent posts on the CDC's page give smoking cessation tips, statistics on prescription drug-related deaths and ways to improve your diet.

On WebMD's Facebook site, the latest content includes exercise tips for adult workouts and children's active video games. The site, which has 53,000 fans, also uses health issues in the news to raise awareness among readers.

Dayton-area health officials understand the value of the medium and have stepped up their Facebook presences to answer patient demand for easily accessible health information.

The region's two largest health systems -- Premier Health Partners and Kettering Health Network -- each have Facebook pages with nearly 800 fans. Although their fans represent only a small segment of the local health care base, it is a sign of a shift toward the medium.

"February saw us using Facebook more than ever," said Bob Jackson, network manager of corporate communications for Kettering Health Network. "And you'll see us increase our use even more."

The main appeal of the media for patients, is the ability to have an immediate two-way conversation with their providers, area health officials said.

In contrast to a health organization's Web site that only states information, Facebook provides patients with the opportunity to ask questions and share their opinions, Jackson said.

The medium acts as a forum for health care discussions among people as well as health professionals. Patients can link to others with similar illnesses, ask their health provider questions and give feedback on their health facilities.

Facebook pages also often link to other social media, such as Twitter, or onto mobile health applications for smartphones, such as Apple Inc.'s (Nasdaq: AAPL) iPhone, Google Inc.'s (Nasdaq: GOOG) Android and Research in Motion Ltd.'s (Nasdaq: RIMM) Blackberry.

Kettering Health Network's Facebook site, which launched around the beginning of the year, showcases news about the system's hospitals and health tips for users. Recent topics include a hospital construction project update and ways to "deskercise," or exercise at your work desk, to improve posture and beat end-of-day fatigue.

Kettering Health and Miami Valley Hospital each utilized Facebook heavily in February for Heart Month. The hospitals posted facts about the heart, tips for a healthier heart and information about free heart screening events in the community. Through the content, the health systems raised awareness for heart disease -- the No. 1 killer in the U. S.

In addition to disease awareness, the health systems also post videos of patient testimonials, doctors' medical advice and procedures offered at the facilities.

Children's Medical Center of Dayton, which has been a health community leader in social media, communicates with patients and their parents through a main Facebook page, which has about 3,800 fans, and a mascot -- Wally B Bear -- site. The pages, featuring health information and patient photos and videos, encourages users to share their medical story, connect with other patients and their families and give feedback about the hospital.

Also beginning this year, the Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association started a Facebook page. The site is a forum for local patients, health professionals and legislators to have a voice on medical issues, such as health care reform. It also posts real-time updates on the area's hospitals, such as changes to visitation rules during flu season.

In addition, the page is used to provide medical resources and educate and inform hospitals and the community on key health care issues, according to Bryan Bucklew, GDAHA president and chief executive officer.

Despite many benefits, gaining health information from social media also has some negatives. While the Facebook pages give patients quick, convenient access to health information from their homes, some medical professionals worry about the release of inaccurate health information and how people will utilize it.

"People do need to be weary of taking health information from people they don't know," Jackson said. "And of course, a health care provider can't provide diagnoses over social media. People still should engage in seeing their physicians."

Taken from; source article is below:
Patients flock to Facebook for health care needs

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