Social media enables engagement and collaboration in healthcare



In today’s connected world many of us use social media on an almost daily basis to reach out, share our innermost thoughts, and find answers to questions. But social media is increasingly a platform for engaging with and collaboration among professionals in many areas – including our healthcare.

Social media provides platforms for people diagnosed with a specific problem to discuss their experiences, their ups and downs, what helps and what doesn’t. A fellow-sufferer’s viewpoint can provide invaluable and unique insight, relieving worry or suggesting new approaches. On social media, someone who understands is often close at hand 24/7. Smart Patients, for example, provides an opportunity for “patients and caregivers to learn from each other about treatments, clinical trials, the latest science and how it all fits into the context of their experience.”

Social media & professionals

There are also social media sites aimed specifically at professionals. Sermo, for example, provides an opportunity for physicians to discuss issues, consult with peers, work together as a community to solve complex health problems and even provide support to doctors working in remote locations around the world.

But it’s not just about collaboration among doctors or contacts between patients. It also provide an opportunity for healthcare providers to engage. A guide from the National Health Service in the UK encourages healthcare professionals to use social media to engage, listen and learn. It describes social media as a two-way communication tool, for both broadcasting public health information and for understanding patients and their needs.

However, if messages are inaccurate, it can be less than helpful. The guide warns that “discussions can develop so quickly that control of agendas can be lost and the balance between proactivity and reactivity can be challenging”.

Social media already plays a significant role in many aspects of our lives today, so why not in healthcare, facilitating collaboration among peers and exchanges between patients and professionals? Have you seen social media play a role in your healthcare?

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The week of 16-19 May 2016 was an important week for girls and women throughout the world with the hosting Women Deliver's 4th Global Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark. It was also a milestone for our Motherhood Projects which incorporate the Alliance for Maternal Health Equality (AMHE), Safe Motherhood Week (SMW) and the Pregnancy and Medicine Initiative (PMI).

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