In today’s technology-based society, we enjoy easy access to myriad sources of digital communication and information.

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In today’s technology-based society, we enjoy easy access to myriad sources of digital communication and information. However, along with this resource comes great responsibility which is privacy. As nurses navigate social networking sites sometimes unknowingly approach a dangerously thin line between professional and personal online etiquette and even run the risk of violating patient privacy. Inappropriate use of social media can cause serious lawsuits.
Social media is also expanding into different areas related to health. For example, PatientsLikeMe (2014) is a newly created service that allows patients to monitor their disease, treatments, and self-reported experiences. The social component allows users to share information with other patients that have the same medical condition, as well as with health researchers and healthcare providers. There are a growing number of sites for health and healthcare related purposes, such as tracking health measures, rating healthcare providers, and hospital services (Fox & Duggan, 2013b). Social media is being used by people across the healthcare system, so it is prudent to discuss the benefits, risks, and best practices for social media amongst nurses.

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The Benefits of Social Media in Healthcare

Social media opens many opportunities for health systems. It allows organizations to build connections, share discoveries, and develop credibility as thought leaders. Through platforms like Twitter and Facebook, physicians and health systems can share relevant health alerts, receive patient feedback, and bolster their brand with a focus on creating trust. By communicating with patients online, hospitals and physicians establish the foundation for a positive relationship. In addition to this, precisely targeted ads via social media platforms assist in personalized patient outreach.

According to a 2018 study, 80 percent of U.S. Internet users have searched for health information online, and 60 percent of social media users trust social media posts by doctors over any other group. By engaging and interacting on the social platforms that their patients frequent, health systems can revitalize their word-of-mouth referrals, improve communication, and provide better care by ensuring that patients continuously engage with the health system.

Of course, there is a negative side of this, HIPAA compliance.  The risk of when patient information gets into the wrong data, and making sure patient sign consent, and by identifying their demographics information.

When the Covid19 started in March, due to quarantined doctors visit, and patient concern were only achieved via telephone, internet “Zoom”, e-mail, and video visits.  These are the ways the patient conveyed with the providers regarding their health concerns.  Nearly all of the patients favors visit via internet or telephone visits currently due to convenience and not subjecting themselves in the sick environment.