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Meaningful Health Care Informatics Blog

Dec 4 2012   8:03AM GMT

Social media in healthcare: Its role in patient engagement



Posted by: RedaChouffani
HIPAA, patient portal, privacy, Social media

Last year the U.S Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) implemented a policy that encourages employees to leverage the emerging social media platforms to enhance communication and information exchange. The implementation of procedures for social media focuses on how staff can interact freely while still ensuring the protection of patient information, a concern shared by many healthcare organizations.

The high adoption rate of social media makes a compelling reason for many health organizations to leverage their various advantages. Social media provides a faster way for some patients to follow up with physicians if they are concerned about certain symptoms. Others view it as a way to stay engaged in their care because they are able to interact with care providers electronically to discuss their conditions. These are just some of the areas that can receive benefits. Many EHR vendors offer online portals where physicians can communicate with their patients by leaving messages, similar to sending emails. Patients are finding it easier to send text messages and social media sites to receive medical information and seek advice.

Mobility and high engagement of patients with social media provides a greater opportunity for a cost effective method to communicate with patients. This collaboration of care and communication framework between doctors and patients would provide the most effective solution for patients with complex conditions or chronic diseases.

Ensuring the privacy and security of such practices and ensuring appropriate policies are available to organizations engaging in such initiatives is the main challenge that remains during this early adoption stage.

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