Healthcare Insider Blog

The impact of Social Media on the Healthcare System

  • Healthcare Alvernia

Social media is an integral part of our daily routines. In fact, the Pew Research Center reports that 74 percent of adult Internet users are active on one or more social networking sites.

And, it’s no longer used simply to share funny cat videos.

More than 40 percent of consumers report that information found via social media affects the way they deal with their health according to Allied Health World.

With so many people turning to social media for the answers to their health issues, doctors of nursing practice, as well as other healthcare providers, may want to consider speaking up on social media to share resources and accurate information, making their voices heard above non-expert sources.

An article by Referral MD, says that if healthcare providers were to speak up, they would be well received. The article notes that 60 percent of social media users are most likely to trust social media posts and activity by doctors over any other group.

There are, of course, regulations that come with healthcare providers using social media, as shared by Joanna Belbey, Social Media and Compliance Specialist, in her article “ Belbey points out that before sharing information on social media, healthcare professionals need to follow federal and state privacy laws and other regulations.

More than an outlet for healthcare providers to get facts and information to patients, researchers are finding that social media can be utilized as a tool for collecting health data.

Doctor of Nursing Practice program student Current studies by Nicholas Christakis, Director of the Human Nature Lab at Yale University and Thomas Keegan, Deputy Director of the Yale Institute for Network Science are exploring the possibility of using Twitter to track the spread of Influenza. The study collects data from any Twitter post mentioning flu symptoms and uses it to map how the virus is spreading, with the end goal of providing early intervention and prevent the virus from spreading further.

The Health Data Exploration Project (HDE), a research group, is taking information collected by companies that make wearable health devices and health apps (FitBit, Jawbone, Runkeeper, etc.) and analyzing that data to track health patterns and trends in aims of expanding our understanding of individual and population health.

Exploring methods to access data using technology and social media offers doctors of nursing practice a new dimension to consider when providing care for consumers.

Alvernia Doctor of Nursing Practice students will take several courses relevant to data collection and analysis, such as NUR 703: Using Informatics for Quality Improvement, NUR 704:  Local and Global Population Based Health, and NUR 803:  Translational Research. Through these courses students will learn about different research practices, the use of informatics, data capture, analysis, and survey tools for both local and global health populations.

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