Social media is being touted as the latest way for medical practitioners to differentiate themselves and their practices by providing a communication medium for direct contact with patients, such as interactive blogs.
- The benefits could be two-fold: healthcare professionals are seen as being attentive and providing personalised service, while patients are empowered and able to research conditions by contacting a reputable, knowledgeable source rather than simply trawling the internet which may have unreliable sources.
- It appears that patients not only want more knowledge about their health, but often want to be involved in the decisions that are being made for them too.
- It has also been suggested that online resources such as SkypeTM or photo sharing portals could be used for preliminary remote diagnosis of medical conditions.
- However, care needs to be taken to ensure that these communication advances do not replace face to face contact with the medical practitioner, but instead add value and improve the experience for the patient.
Implications and next steps: The use of widely available interactive information and communication technology (such as blogs and SkypeTM) is already being explored in the medical profession to improve patient engagement, but there may be applications in other types of decision making such as community consultation on proposed new development. Engaging virtually with a real person may encourage greater participation and foster a feeling of public empowerment.
CompuKol Connection: http://tinyurl.com/ck8p2tt, October workshops