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ICT Assignment: Utilization of Twitter for Public Health Informatics in Australia


Task: Write a detailed ICT assignment on the topic “Utilization of Twitter for Public Health Informatics in Australia”.


The concept of InformationCommunication Technology (ICT) explored in this ICT assignment has vastly implemented in various industries. In recent times, ICT has been aggressively used in public health informatics from primary to tertiary care. Due to the usage of ICT, access to health information by the service users, populations, and professionals has increased (Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing, 2012). It has also empowered the professional education, training, and networking. This report will analyze the utilization of Twitter as a tool forinformed public health informatics.

Improved Use of Informatics in Public Health
Digital Information has been the backbone of high-quality health care services. High awareness among the patients and individuals will further reduce hospital admissions, low adverse drug, less duplication of tests, and better coordination with the individuals experiencing chronic and complex health scenarios (Australian Digital Health Agency, 2019). The Australian Government has laid several laws and supported advancements for securing the digital services from the potential attacks. The transparent and control health systems have facilitated instant access with effective management of disease, developing new medicines and treatments.

Twitter Review
Some of the twitter accounts of esteemed health institutions were followed and analyzed namely @ehealthpaho, @DigitalHealth, and @RuralMental_Hth. In this view, @ehealthpaho has been active on its social media majorly in 2017 and 2018. This organization has been posting many articles that are based on telemedicine, visual care, patterns of internet, and computer use. Thus, it reveals that the health firm educates its users about the usage of highly advancedtechnology in the healthsector. Additionally, Rural Mental Health had joined Twitter in the year 2010 while it was also active in posting health-related articles until 2019. The viewers and twitter account holders can obtain ample information on drug use, medical-related issues in rural areas, and mental health faced by individuals of varied ages.

Digital Health joined twitter in the year 2017 and has actively promoted its institution through social media. One can find articles and posts related to its collaboration with health institutes, scholarship opportunities, webinars, job posts, and other developments in the medical field. The twitter review of these three health-related posts indicates the effective use of social media in the medical sector. While reviewing the twitter accounts, it was found that theinstitutions posted several engagement activities to increase their followers and viewers count. The Twitter accounts were reviewed on the posts that were updated in 2017, 2018, and 2019 and it was found that articles related to health were increased with a high surge of words like care, new, mental, fitness and others. Sentiment analysis was conducted after which it was found that the posts had a positive tone and score.

It can be thus said that interest in health has increased thus, a large population can be made aware of the recent trends and advancements in the health sector. Twitter is one of the well-known social media tools that was created in the year 2006 that allowed its users to post and send messages to each other with not more than 140 characters. Research suggests that in the past two years, public health research has been growing through this platform. In this view, Twitter has been helpful to many scholars as the platform provides a pool of databases and is a major source of big data. Thus, researchers and scholars can obtain information on demographics and other public information at low costs. The insight on twitter-based research can provide opportunities for the assessments and monitoring of health on social media platforms (Relebogileand Mompoloki, 2012).

Use of Twitter in Health Care
It has been noticed that many health care managers have been utilizing their social media for engaging the patients and potential health care consumers. In the recent era, individuals spend the majority of their days, browsing through social media accounts and rely heavily on the health care information obtained through various online platforms (Crilly et al, 2019). Thus, these platforms having beenincreasingly used for garnering support and connecting with patients. The patients are also dependent on their social media accounts for selecting doctors, specialists, and hospitals thus helping in making informed decisions for seeking care.

In the crisis, important procedures and information about the health can be spread through the social media platforms. For instance, the use of twitter and social media platforms have been useful in the posting animated videos and real scenarios about the protection procedures to be followed during the outbreak of COVID- 19. Many governments worldwide use their twitter accounts to update the information to the masses (Thackeray et al, 2012). Having accounts on twitter is beneficial as important and authentic information from renowned health care units like Red Cross, Center for disease control can be communicated to large populations within a short period.

In the health care industry, it is essential to reduce barriers for collaborating with health professionals, researchers, and individuals for improving the treatments and disciplines in the public health domain. Thus, Twitter can be used not only for connecting the biomedical researchers while it also advances research for the physicians (Tursunbayeva, Franco and Pagliari, 2017). In the public health domain, twitter act as connecting platforms forclinicians and researchers. The information from clinicians through their close contact with patients can help the biomedicalresearchersin evolving patients’ treatments through appropriate decision making. Thereby the exchange of issues in clinics is impactful collaboration strategies for governments and health care professionals (Clar et al, 2014). It can be further said that Twitter establishes two-way communication amongst the source and consumer of data for improving current scenarios. Twitter is capable of connecting billions of individuals with public tweets that include health updates, retweeting, and sharing health care articles and journals while also coordinates relief programs organized globally.

Ethical and Legal Issues in Public Health Informatics
The health care industry is primarily based on ethics and privacy as the doctor and patient share private and confidential information. In this technologically developed era, privacy cannot be guaranteed as health care operations and communications are conducted through digital platforms. This exposes the data to the dynamic world of cybercrime which still has not been controlled and regulated. It is further noticed that participants are recruited from social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook. In medical research consent from the parents and the participant is mandatory before participating in theclinicalresearch (Thilakanathan et al, 2014). However, while recruiting participants online, consent may be faked while individuals may provide a false document for taking part in the studies.

In low income earning nations, mobile phone penetrations have revolutionized ICT in the health industry. Information dissemination has increased with the rising use of smartphones. The average time spends on social media has increased thus, advancing public health information. As, the ICT has become pervasive due to which the health professionals and services have been using e-platforms and social media for gathering and spreading information (Al-Busaidi, 2015). The information quality is variable and self- diagnosis has become generic thus raising concerns about safety and quality. Additionally, increasing the use of ICT in public health has impacted the relationships amongst health care professionals positively and negatively. The patient and service provider relationship might suffer as the information can be leaked or accessed by unauthorized users on the internet.

As mentioned above, social media has been playing an integral part in patient engagement, promotions, and communications in the health care industry. However, issues like privacy, unauthorized events, and problems related to intellectual property have been major concerns for enterprises and individuals. Problems like content ownership, regulatory compliance, and other criminal activities have been negatively impacted social media.

Privacy- Social media tools can be accessed in many ways which pose threats to privacy laws. The employee and enterprises should always be alert while accessing various websites while also modify the privacy settings of their social media tools (Punj and Kumar, 2019).

Content Ownership- To reach out to viewers and increase their followers, many websites are content-rich but the content owners are vulnerable. Thus, the end-users should be wise before disclosure of the sensitive information related to health to their social media websites.

Intellectual Property rights- Content abundance and several ways for accessing social media, several concerns, and legal issues have been raised about the infringement of intellectual property. Issues of intellectual property rights rea raised when photos, videos, graphics are shared and downloaded through social media platforms.

Unauthorized Activities- The criminal activities in the health care industry was prevalent before the growth of social media platforms. Social media platforms have increased unlawful activities like harassments, discrimination, disclosing of confidential data, and other cybercrimes. Regulatory Compliance- In the past 10 years, social media have been strictly scrutinized for regulatory compliance. HIPAA has created several guidelines that the health care unit and professionals need to follow for social networking and electronic communication. In this view, patients’ identity, clinical data, demographics, andhealth information should be protected from potential cyber-attacks and unauthorized use.

As mentioned above, advancement in technology has fostered new developments in the Health care industry of Australia. Social media platforms have been heavily used for spreading the recent development amongst the communities while also facilitating research studies by connecting the physicians, clinicians, participants, and researchers on one platform.

Telemedicine in Australia
The National Broadband Network has been delayed by the Australian government but the growth of telemedicine in remote and rural areas has not been hampered. The individuals and patients in rural- remote areas are fulfilling their health care needs with slower broadband services. The improved technology in the Australian region will enable many individuals to attain services by just clicking and browsing through their smartphones.

Telehealth innovator apps are capable of connecting the patients in remote areas with the doctors that are practicing several km away from them (Brown, 2019). They receive treatments and attend the doctors via registered GPSs through video conferences. This technology has benefitted average Australian that belong to different corners of the country especially to the senior citizens and fly-in fly-out workers (Banbury et al, 2018). Real-time consultations through video conferences enable patients and families to receive medical care and treatment while they can access to highly qualified doctors when in need. Telemedicine has been successful in reducing the stigma that some patients feel while visiting the chamber especially in cases related to mental health and intimate health. Tele apps have ben partnered with some of the renowned pharmacies through which the patients receive medication via digital prescriptions. Those that could not access the GPs in the working hours can also receive prescribed medication. Thus, the stress on the medical system has been reduced while the quality of services has increased.

Barriers of Telemedicine in Australia
In 2016, the Australian government released a report that annual expenditure on public health has grown from AU$15 billion in 2003-04 to AU$155billion in 2013- 14. Also aging workforce, increasing chronic conditions with high expectations from the citizens and professionals have led strains on the current health care systems.

Funding has major issues in up taking the telemedicine in Australia. Since telemedicine is entirely dependent on ICT infrastructure, it requires substantial funding for building strong servers that are highly encrypted for sustaining cyber attacks. It was reported that only 64.6 tribal population and 69.3% of the rural population had access to a stable internet network. Thus, inefficient internet availability several needy patients are unable to access consultations, transmitting health data while supervising health from their residents (Cohen et al, 2016). The issues in privacy and security in the current broadband services have restricted the deployment of new health care systems. As mentioned above, a secured server with end to end encryption and real-time performance of stable connectivity of patients and doctors (CSIRO, 2016). The lack in the current networking systems will only limit messaging services that adequate in managing the medical health records and databases. The Australian Government assumes that telehealth can be implemented at low costs while also supply high quality and services required by the end-users.

The fragmented networks have failed interstate interactions with the specialists and highly qualified doctors. It can be further be denoted that the National Broadband Network is a dependable source for successful telehealth implementations in the regions. Thus, this technological strategy needs to be strengthened by the government for improved health services (Department of Health, 2019).

The platform involves personal information of the patients that are shared with the doctors and pharmacies. If such confidential data is leaked, then this technology will become inefficient in protecting its clients from harassments and other potential threats(Cohen et al, 2016). The advent of telemedicine has also burdened the rural doctors with the workload as they work beyond their official hours for treating the patients.

The delay in the National Broadband Network has posed difficulties in accessing equipment like desktops and others. the remote and rural areas have access to poor internet data due to which online health consultations are not effective. Additionally, the rural doctors have traditional thinking about the treatment’s procedure and thus adept in adopting teleconferencing and facsimile (Banbury et al, 2017). Thus, traditional mindsets may result in a lack of interest in learning computer and network operated treatments. Thus, the barriers in telemedicine are related to funding, time, infrastructure equipment, and required skill sets.Additionally, the health care staffs as well as the individuals are not provided with financial incentives in the remote areas which also discourages the use of telehealth by the professionals (Banbury et al, 2017).

The Activity Based Funding is uncertain that should be provided to hospitals for covering the service deliveries through telehealth. In the recent scenario service delivery funding are only available to only limited doctors and specialists that reside outside the metropolitan city. Also, the patient should be located at 15kms away from service for receiving substantial funds. Thus, the current funding only covers 4% medical services which have further reduced the adoption of telehealth by the professionals.

The health service providers should support the government in building strong infrastructure in the public health domain. Substantial funding in the initial stages is required for alleviating strains on current health systems while improving the experiences and treatments of the patients. Also, the telehealth agenda cannot only drive the successful expansion of the health sector, thus private enterprises should be included for handling the lack in the telehealth systems.

GP services are distributed each year but are not eligible for telehealth. Thus, the practitioners or the nurses are unable to bill Medicare services that are provided through telehealth. The medical business in Australia is highly dependent on funding provided by the governments. In this view, the government needs to devise appropriate strategies that can reduce lacks and restrictions in the current telehealth systems. The involvement of private sectors will enable the government in achieving the implementation of telemedicine at a faster rate.

The Australian government has implemented telemedicine for reducing strain on the medical system while also providing quality health services in the rural and remote areas. However, telehealth is not fully adopted due to inefficient networking systems and proper funding to service providers.

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Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing. (2012). E-mental health strategy for Australia. /$File/emstrat.pdf (Retrieved 7 July 2020).

Banbury, A., Chamberlain, D., Nancarrow, S., Dart, J., Gray, L., & Parkinson, L. (2017). Can videoconferencing affect older people's engagement and perception of their social support in long-term conditions management: a social network analysis from the telehealth literacy project. Health & Social Care in the Community, 25(3), 938–950.

Banbury, A., Nancarrow, S., Dart, J., Gray, L., & Parkinson, L. (2018). Telehealth interventions delivering home-based support group videoconferencing: systematic review. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 20(2), 25.

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Cohen, S. A., Huziak, R. C., Gustafson, S., & Grubs, R. E. (2016). Analysis of advantages, limitations, and barriers of genetic counseling service delivery models. Journal of Genetic Counseling, 25(5), 1010–1018.

Crilly, P., Hassanali, W., Khanna, G., Matharu, K., Patel, D., Rahman, F., &Kayyali, R. (2019). Community pharmacist perceptions of their role and the use of social media and mobile health applications as tools in public health. ICT assignmentResearch in Social & Administrative Pharmacy : Rsap, 15(1), 23–30.

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Punj, R., & Kumar, R. (2019). Technological aspects of wbans for health monitoring: a comprehensive review. Wireless Networks : The Journal of Mobile Communication, Computation and Information, 25(3), 1125–1157.

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Tursunbayeva, A., Franco, M., &Pagliari, C. (2017). Use of social media for e-government in the public health sector: a systematic review of published studies. Government Information Quarterly, 34(2), 270–282.


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