Social media set to change face of healthcare industry

Healthcare consulting firms can help medical facilities properly educate staff on how to work with patients that rely on social media for self-diagnoses.

Hospitals and medical facilities have been integrating new technologies into their daily operations for many years. Electronic medical records (EMRs) and meaningful use requirements are just two areas where healthcare consulting services have been able to assist in the transition. However, some industry experts are pointing to another avenue that could change the way patients are cared for – social media.

With the rise in popularity of websites like Twitter and Facebook, the social media phenomenon could have a large impact on healthcare, according to authors Ramona Nelson, professor at Slippery Rock University, Debra Wolf, PhD, associate professor of nursing at Chatham University and Irene Joos, PhD, associate professor of information systems and technology at La Roche College.

The trio wrote “Social Media for Nurses” and spoke with InformationWeek Healthcare about what changes medical facilities can expect to see. Patients are now using social media to access healthcare and self-diagnose, which means the sector is seeing individuals who are not only more educated, but are interpreting the information they find.

According to Nelson, some providers are adamant in the fact that face-to-face meetings are still the best form of medical diagnoses. While sometimes that is the best form of patient care, Nelson added that “it’s not the only means and can actually limit the value of healthcare delivery if practiced exclusively. … Social media has become so integrated into our lives and health care, and we believe it must be incorporated into healthcare [curricula] and policy.”

Medical facilities need to ensure that they are prepared for a possible influx of patients not only using social media, but possibly bringing their findings into the doctor’s office. In order to understand all new technologies and how they can impact an organization, partnering with a firm specializing in healthcare IT consulting services could be greatly beneficial.

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