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Friday, January 17, 2014

Is there value in using social media for healthcare in the Philippines?

During last week's #HealthXPh Hangout on Air (HOA), network connection difficulties prevented me from participating for the entire duration of the HOA. So I decided to put here my answers to the questions posted last week regarding social media's value in healthcare in the Philippine context.

T1: Is there value in using social media for healthcare in the Philippines?

It's a big YES for me especially that we Filipinos are supposedly one of the top users of social media in the entire globe. A lot of people can be reached via social media especially when telecommunications companies are beginning to offer free use of social networking sites.

Social media offers an avenue for

  • communication
  • collaboration
  • information gathering and sharing
It also has a multiplying effect as posts get shared via social bookmarks and other social media tools reaching more and more people. In my observation though, not many local doctors are tapping social media for healthcare purposes.

T2: What social media tools do I use for healthcare and how do I use them?

I use blogs first and foremost. My PKD blog documents my experiences not as a healthcare professional but as a patient in the hopes that my readers who have PKD may learn something out of it as they cope with PKD. As a public health advocate and healthcare professional, I blog also about public health topics as well as inform health professionals of coming medical events in my other blogs.

I use Facebook in various ways both as a patient and healthcare professional.

I have a Facebook support group for hemodialysis patients. I read and share health articles. I engage my students (future physicians) by posting points to ponder or points to reflect upon. As a patient, believe it or not, Facebook is where I get a lot of moral support as well as financial support thru crowdfunding. I connect also with others using Facebook.

Googleplus is where I also share my health blog articles to reach more people.

Instagram is where I post pics that would help inspire other hemodialysis patients to remain having a positive outlook despite their illness. It is where I post also pictures with messages.

Twitter is also where I connect to people with similar  interests, people I look up to, model health professionals and persons of influence. Twitter is also where I get the fresh medical and social media updates, health news, health researches and many more. Of course, it is also an avenue to share opinions as well as have meaningful conversations like in #HealthXPh tweetchat.

T3: Do you think there should be guidelines for social media use in healthcare institutions?

With the importance of patient privacy, yes there should be guidelines. With location easily tracked or determined in social media plus the date given, even without mentioning names, a patient can easily be identified with just a few details or a revealing photograph needed when patients and their cases are discussed online.

Now that we know the value of social media in healthcare, I am inviting healthcare professionals including doctors to use social media not only for personal use but also for improving healthcare.

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