SOCIAL MEDIA AND HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS

Social media is an interactive digitally-mediated platform that facilitates the creation or sharing of information, ideas, career interest, and other forms of expression via virtual communities and networks.

Acknowledging and accepting the fact the social media has come to stay will help you know how to take advantage of it. Just like the sun, we met it here and we’ll leave it here. However a lot has been achieved from the sun and more is still being done.

Many sectors are beginning to adapt to the use of social media and other forms of technologies in their spheres which have shown great improvements and the health sector shouldn’t be left behind. There are varieties of tools for Health Care Professionals (HCPs), including social networking platforms, blogs, microblogs, wikis, media-sharing sites,virtual reality and gaming environment. These tools can be used in various ways, which includes improving or enhancing professional networking, education, organizational promotion, patient care, patient education, and public health.

Different social media sites and applications serve different purposes for individual users and organizations. These can be grouped as follows, but it’s not exhaustive:

  1. Social networking (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp)
  2. Professional networking (LinkedIn)
  3. Media sharing (YouTube)
  4. Content production (blogs, microblogs, websites)
  5. Knowledge/information aggregation (Wikipedia)

Social media provide HCPs with tools to share information amongst them and others, to debate health care policy and practice issues, to promote health behaviors, to engage with the public, and to educate and interact with patients, caregivers, students and colleagues.

The wise and prudent usage of social media sites and platforms offers the potential to promote individual and public health, as well as professional development and advancement. However, when carelessly used the danger it poses is daunting. Hence, guidelines issued by health care organizations and professional societies should be adhered to by HCPs to avoid pitfalls.

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