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Social media has had an enormous impact on culture, business and society, and has revolutionised the way people communicate and socialise. However, can it be used for more, particularly within the healthcare sector?

Having previously discussed the effect of social media on complaints, this articles aims to discuss further impacts that social media could have in helping the healthcare industry.

 

What is Social Media?

The term social media includes social networking sites, collaborative services, blogs and virtual communities. They are different to most forms of traditional media as they can reach more people, more quickly, with more ease, and at a higher rate of frequency.

Unfortunately the NHS has been relatively slow to react to this ever evolving form of communication. As Jonathan Carr-Brown, director of Lost for Words stated here: “In a world where digital innovation can sweep the globe in months, the NHS is one of the most non-viral institutions in the world.”

 

How can it help?

Within the healthcare industry is becoming increasingly imperative that people (patients and healthcare workers alike) use social media to react rapidly and resolutely to events and news as they happen, and despite the confidentiality aspects it could have a massive potential (if used responsibly and the proper security measures are in place) in bringing many benefits to patients. Particularly, groups where interaction has been notoriously difficult in the past such as teenagers.

Social media channels can also provide access to information for thousands of people at any given time, and can breakdown the information barrier that often plagues the healthcare industry. A prime example of this is NHS Blood Donation who use social media to share information and engage with blood-givers (how blood is used, where you can donate etc.). As a result their Facebook page has garnered over 475k likes and they have nearly 44k followers on Twitter.

Campaigns like this are creating an opportunity that can directly impact and improve their professions and the lives of their patients, as more information equals more interaction (and more donors in this instance).

 

With initiatives like this proving so popular social media can no longer be an afterthought for the NHS or any medical services company (hence why here at Jigsaw Medical we take it very seriously and employ our own in-house Social Media manager). However for it succeed in the NHS it needs to be well thought-out and integrated seamlessly to ensure it provides the impact that it has the potential to.

Social media isn’t going anywhere in the near future and healthcare professionals must learn how to use and benefit from it’s use, or risk wasting a massive opportunity.