Providers, Patients Using Social Media To Discuss Health Care Topics

Health care providers and patients are turning to Twitter and other social media outlets to communicate about health care topics, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Providers' Use of Social Media

According to the Times, physicians are using social media to:

  • Share new health information that otherwise would be delayed until the publication of a research paper;
  • Recruit study participants; and 
  • Teach people about healthy habits.

Patients' Use of Social Media

The Times reports that patients are using social media to:

  • Describe their experiences with different diseases or conditions; and
  • Recommend or criticize particular physicians or health care facilities.

Comments on Trend

Prasanth Prasanna -- a radiologist who has studied the use of social media in health care -- said that patients who use social media to become better informed about health could change the doctor-patient dynamic. Prasanna said the dynamic could become "less hierarchical, more of a level playing field."

James Rickert -- founder and president of the Society for Patient Centered Orthopedics -- said that patients using social media to recommend or criticize health care providers could encourage physicians to practice more patient-centered care.

However, some experts have expressed concern that the use of social media outlets could facilitate the spread of medical misinformation (Ravn, Los Angeles Times, 12/15).

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