Social Media In Education And Healthcare

Social Media In Education And Healthcare

Many social media tools are available for health care professionals (HCPs), including social networking platforms, blogs, microblogs, wikis, media-sharing sites, and virtual reality and gaming environments.18 These tools can be used to improve or enhance professional networking and education, organizational promotion, patient care, patient education, and public health programs.3,510 However, they also present potential risks to patients and HCPs regarding the distribution of poor-quality information, damage to professional image, breaches of patient privacy, violation of personal–professional boundaries, and licensing or legal issues.24,8,1017 Many health care institutions and professional organizations have issued guidelines to prevent these risks Social Media In Education And Healthcare

The definition of “social media” is broad and constantly evolving. The term generally refers to Internet-based tools that allow individuals and communities to gather and communicate; to share information, ideas, personal messages, images, and other content; and, in some cases, to collaborate with other users in real time.26 Social media are also referred to as “Web 2.0” or “social networking.” 5

Social media sites provide a variety of features that serve different purposes for the individual user.19 They may include blogs, social networks, video- and photo-sharing sites, wikis, or a myriad of other media, which can be grouped by purpose, serving functions such as: Social Media In Education And Healthcare

  • Social networking (Facebook, MySpace, Google Plus, Twitter)

  • Professional networking (LinkedIn)

  • Media sharing (YouTube, Flickr)

  • Content production (blogs [Tumblr, Blogger] and microblogs [Twitter])

  • Knowledge/information aggregation (Wikipedia)

  • Virtual reality and gaming environments (Second Life)

Participation in social media by the general public has increased sharply over the past nine years.5,11 In the U.S., the proportion of adults using social media has increased from 8% to 72% since 2005.5,11 The use of social media is prevalent across all ages and professions and is pervasive around the world.2,8 In 2012, Facebook users exceeded one billion people worldwide, a number that represents one-seventh of the world’s population.2,8 In addition, each day 100 million active Twitter users send more than 65 million tweets, and two billion videos are viewed on YouTube.2 Social media have been linked to highly significant political events, such as the Arab Spring revolution, as well as to widespread societal trends, including the shortening of individuals’ attention spans and the decline of print news media Social Media In Education And Healthcare


Social media provide HCPs with tools to share information, 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. HCPs can use social media to potentially improve health outcomes, develop a professional network, increase personal awareness of news and discoveries, motivate patients, and provide health information to the community.

Physicians most often join online communities where they can read news articles, listen to experts, research medical developments, consult colleagues regarding patient issues, and network. There they can share cases and ideas, discuss practice management challenges, make referrals, disseminate their research, market their practices, or engage in health advocacy. A growing minority of physicians also uses social media to communicate directly with patients to augment clinical care Social Media In Education And Healthcare

A survey of more than 4,000 physicians conducted by the social media site QuantiaMD found that more than 90% of physicians use some form of social media for personal activities, whereas only 65% use these sites for professional reasons. Nearly a third of physicians have reported participating in social networks. However, both personal and professional use of social media by physicians is increasing.

Unlike physicians, pharmacists have been relatively slow to adopt social media. Much of the growth in the professional use of social media among this group appears to involve pharmacist-specific social networks.1 Surveys have shown that many pharmacists use Facebook.1 Although this use is most often for personal communications, more than 90 pages on Facebook are related to the pharmacy profession, such as the Pharmacists Interest Page, the American Pharmacists Association, and the Cynical Pharmacist. Only 10% of pharmacists use Twitter, and a search for “pharmacist” on LinkedIn identified 274,981 profiles.

There are more than 140 reported uses for Twitter in health care.17 The Penn State College of Medicine has used Twitter to facilitate discussions between students and instructors, to conduct course evaluations, to solicit class responses, and to monitor students’ progress.17 A Twitter Journal Club also provides advance posts about papers and questions to be discussed, along with a hashtag, so that students, doctors, and anyone interested in the subject can interact.17 Twitter has also been used at medical conferences to discuss and enhance speaker presentations by posting real-time comments from the audience.17 Some physicians have used Twitter to develop a large following, enabling them to reach a broad audience and potentially even affect health policy decision Social Media In Education And Healthcare

Also check: Using the Practicum Experience for Professional Growth

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