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Healthcare Assignment: Impact of Social Media on Health Care Sector


Task: This healthcare assignmentis a 2000 word report on the below topic:
Topic: Discuss the benefits and risks of using social media in contemporary healthcare.


Introduction to the theme of healthcare assignment
In the era of digitalcommunications, social media is a significant part of the marketing and communication strategies of health care organizations. In the US, almost the majority of the hospitals manage their communications through digital platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. It is beneficial as the customer base is retained through routine communications about services, developments, occasions, and others. It provides faster reach to the targeted audiences. Additionally, patients have become aware of the health services so they browse through social platforms of health care units for undertaking medical care decisions (Hazzam&Lahrech, 2018). Various social media platformshave become an important source for sharing the latest development and other information of health carewith patients. This report will discuss the risks and benefits of a social media platform in the health care sector.

Different Platforms

Social Media is referred to as the combination of various platforms that can be accessed through web and mobile devices (Ventola, 2014). It connects individuals living in different parts of the world thus allowing them to share information through pictures, videos, podcasts and others. Some of the most widely used platforms are

Facebook- It has it headquarters in Menlo Park with has active monthly users of 2.45 billion. The news feed has increased the business posts suppressions, but one can still enhance visitor engagement through various other ways without high investments in adverts. Thus, the marketers invite the individuals to join different groups through Facebook messenger, live videos etcfor increasing brand recognition (Ventola, 2014).

Twitter- Twitter was founded in the year 2006 and in recent times it has approximately 330 million active users. Engagement of this platform is tremendous as brand updates informative and helpful articles that attract millions of users to the brand’s accounts. Pinterest – Pinterest is a broad platform where one can find the latest information on fashion, health, wedding, and many others. One can easily segment its audiences on gender as 81 % of the user’s are females while only 40 % of males are new joiners. It just has been 10 years for its foundation and this platform has gathered 322 million monthly active users (Ventola, 2014).

Reddit- Reddit has been one of the participants in the top 20 most visited websites. This social media has provided a platform to more than 150,000 communities that posts articles on various issues and topics frequently.

Use of Social media by health workers
Access to social media has increased by 62% in the US on a daily routine. Social media has emerged as a platform through which the health workers can easily communicate to the patients about the new developments of the industry. It is very effective in educating the masses about hazardous diseases, their treatments, and precautionary measures (Alsughayr, 2015). For instance, social media has been effectivelyused by the health care professionalsandgovernments to warn millions of individuals about the hazards of COVID-19. Several webinars, video conferencing, animatedpictures were posted by the doctors to spread precautionary measures to be followed during the pandemic. It has been noticed that several researchers collect participants through social media engagement activities.

Professional Guidelines
Many countries globally have drafted policies to restrict privacy breaches of medical health care on social media platforms. E- professionalism is used as a code of conduct in the health care industry for managing interactions through digital platforms. Thus, the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia guides its nurses for upholding professional behaviors and ethicalstandards while communicating on the social media platforms (Panahi et al, 2016). The Australian Government has laid strict laws for maintaining patient’s confidentiality and privacy as it might impact their services, image, and other relations. Thus, health workers are restricted to posts images and videos about patient cases, medical procedures, and others.

Social Risks

Health care is a serious topic thus; patients and individuals tend to believe practicesshowcased through pictures and videos. It becomes difficult in identifying the authentic posts by authorized health professionals, thereby false news and articles might create situations of panics(Smailhodzic et al, 2016).

Risks to Patients
The creation of social media accounts is simple and easier thuscan be accessed by any individual. Hence, many low qualified individuals' might post fake facts and practices about health care for increasing their web presence.This has a negative impact on overall public health.

Risks to Health Care Workers
Since the information posted on the socialmedia circulates online even after its being deleted from the servers. Thus, E- professionalism and social media policies should beplaned by the organizations before adopting digital communication strategies. This will help in adopting professional conduct thus reducing negative impacts from a privacy breach. A recent survey concluded, that many undergraduates’ medical students had insufficient information about professional conduct online and they posted several inappropriate content and patients’ information on their social media (Yonker et al, 2015). It has become essential for trainingof medical staff about the use of social media to protect their professional image and medical license. For instance, sharing patients X- rays or other vital information on Facebook had resulted in the suspension of nurses. Health care professionals can create websites for interacting with patients, thus ensuring high encrypted communication.

Community Risks
The content on social media circulates much faster than traditional mediums. It is impossible to restrict the reactionsand use of information by several users. This might trigger hatred and other negative impacts of health care on the community. Social media and other digital tools have facilitated the circulation of misinformation that has outraged public sentiments on incomplete facts and figures (Hors et al, 2016).

Legal Issues
The usage of social media in health care settings increasesissues related to professionalism that further raises privacy and confidentiality concerns. Ethical considerations should always be maintained between professional personal relations in health care industry.

Ethical issues
In many countries, doctors and nurses have been suspended for leaking sensitive information about the patients on their social media for increasing the followers count. In several health care organizations, skype is often used for internal communications and is often left unlocked before leavening the desks. Colleagues or other health workers might share patient information through these mediums thus increasing the risks of data leakage(Denecke et al, 2015). Also, the relations between health care and patients should be restricted. It is often noticed that patients initiate communication with doctors online to avoid consultation fees or maintain healthy relations. This violates professional boundaries and might result in leaking sensitive information.

Political Risks
It was noticed that individuals have increasingly followed articles and researched topics like vaccines, nutrient requirements, dieting, smoking, and others. This results in formations of false theories about realistic health care in the individual mindsets that further have severe consequences on communities as a whole. New parents are often curious about vaccinations and other medical help for their children; however, social media exposes them to a pool of data that provides misinformation about vaccines thereby reducing public confidence in advanced medicines (Ventola, 2014). Many political settings on the digital platforms raise misunderstandings about the public vaccination thereby impacting public health. Moreover, health care professionals and organizations should be alert about the information posted on social media for protecting public interests and health.

As mentioned above, social media platforms are the quickest ways to reach audiences. Healthcare sectors are one of the fastest-growing industries embarked on by developments and advancements. Additionally, in this fast and busy world, it is difficult for individuals to take appointments off the doctors for every medical concern (Gamache-OLeary&Grant, 2017). Thus, many organizations and doctors retain their patients through their web pages, Facebook accounts, Instagram posts, and others.

Support Benefits
Social media platforms enable health care workers to be updated about the latest trends, advancements in the medical care industry. This further helps in building contacts with best professionals globally thereby helping them to perform better in their work roles. It can be evaluated that health care professionals can use social media platforms for improving health outcomes, developing professional networks, increasing personal awareness, motivating the new and existing patient base, and providing health information to the communities

Improving Patient’s Outcomes
Nations like Australia, digital platforms like telehealth have been in existence to provide the best facilities in the remote and rural areas (Rolls et al,2016). Thus, appointments, reminders, teleconferencing has yielded timely medical services to ailing patients.

Professional nurse
Social media platforms help the nurses in connecting their personal and professional life. This helps in facilitating discussions with colleagues and experts about medical care trends, practices and others. Many nurses share their experiences of work thereby helping other apprentices in excelling and overcoming professional obstacles.

Twitter has been one of the most attractive platforms for generating high-quality health news. Tweeting and re-tweeting of information increases the reach of the data to a variety of individuals (Denecke et al, 2015). It has been noticed that Twitter is used as a platform for clinicians and researchers to gain deeper insights into the patient’s health issues and aligning the medical research accordingly. It also provides platforms for voluntary participants globally in health care research. Governments of several nations have been actively using social media to educate and inform the communities about the benefits and precautions to be taken for a healthy life.

Patient’s Benefits
Every individual has concerns about their health while visiting the doctors every time becomes difficult. Health podcasts, articles videos, animated series help individualsunderstanding body functions as per their choice. This helps in undertaking corrective and precautionary measures to avoid hazardous diseases (Hazzam&Lahrech, 2018). For instance, in this pandemic situation, many doctors and health care workers posted effective information about COVID-19to educate the masses about its precautionary measures to be taken. Many of doctors invited individuals for free mental counselling for reducing impacts from prolonged lockdowns in COVID-19.

Benefits to Health care Workers
Surgeons and physicians are often enrolled in the online forums through which they are exposed to the medical experts, articles, while also participate in several medical developments and research projects (Alsughayr, 2015). A survey conducted on 4000 physicians showcased that 90% of the doctors are active on social media for personal reasons while the remaining 65% utilize social websites for gaining professional competence. It can be said that the use of social media for both personal and professional purposes has increased gradually (Alsughayr, 2015).

Benefits to Communities
Several health-related websites, blogs, and research forums have helped many communities in adopting a healthy lifestyle. If one searches the internet or platforms like Twitter, one will attain appropriate information about different aspects of health infections. The information helps to modify routine eating and sleeping habits. For instance, articles and medical researches present on liver cancer help the reader in adopting a healthy eating lifestyle for preventing such type of life risks diseases.

Social media has helped in reducing the communications barrier along with helping many professionals and individuals to gain global identity. Thus, one can access social media through various platforms like online emails, digital networking like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, sharing media tools like YouTube, and professional tools such as LinkedIn. One can also use social media platforms like microblogging sites, content blogging, and virtual environments. However, social media platforms poseseveral risks that are related to data breach and leakage of personal and private information of the patients. Hence, health care professionals should be trained to be ethical while using social media tools.

Alsughayr, A. R. (2015). Social media in healthcare: Uses, risks, and barriers. Saudi Journal of Medicine and Medical Sciences, 3(2), 105. Denecke, K., Bamidis, P., Bond, C., Gabarron, E., Househ, M., Lau, A. Y. S., ... & Hansen, M. (2015). Ethical issues of social media usage in healthcare. Yearbook of medical informatics, 10(1), 137.

Gamache-OLeary, V., & Grant, G. (2017, January). Social media in healthcare. In Proceedings of the 50th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences.

Hazzam, J., &Lahrech, A. (2018). Health care professionals’ social media behavior and the underlying factors of social media adoption and use: Quantitative study. Journal of medical Internet research, 20(11), e12035.

Hors-Fraile, S., Atique, S., Mayer, M. A., Denecke, K., Merolli, M., &Househ, M. (2016). The unintended consequences of social media in healthcare: new problems and new solutions.Healthcare assignment Yearbook of medical informatics, (1), 47.

Panahi, S., Watson, J., & Partridge, H. (2016). Social media and physicians: exploring the benefits and challenges. Health informatics journal, 22(2), 99-112.

Rolls, K., Hansen, M., Jackson, D., & Elliott, D. (2016). How health care professionals use social media to create virtual communities: an integrative review. Journal of medical Internet research, 18(6), e166.

Smailhodzic, E., Hooijsma, W., Boonstra, A., & Langley, D. J. (2016). Social media use in healthcare: a systematic review of effects on patients and on their relationship with healthcare professionals. BMC health services research, 16(1), 442.

Ventola, C. L. (2014). Social media and health care professionals: benefits, risks, and best practices. Pharmacy and therapeutics, 39(7), 491.

Yonker, L. M., Zan, S., Scirica, C. V., Jethwani, K., & Kinane, T. B. (2015). “Friending” teens: systematic review of social media in adolescent and young adult health care. Journal of medical Internet research, 17(1), e4.


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