With the explosion of social media, websites have emerged to fill the voids in our day-to-day lives. We log on to our Myspace, Facebook, Twitter accounts, YouTube, and a plethora of other such portals to vent out our thoughts and feelings, with varying degrees of success. The questions that most people who are not professionals ask are: How will this impact my healthcare profession? What are the best uses for social media for healthcare practitioners?
In general, these questions are fair ones. With the explosion of technological advancements that influence almost everything we do, healthcare professions are no exception. However, the use of social media for healthcare professions is not simply restricted to answering questions. It has come to be an integral part of how healthcare practitioners approach their profession.
First of all, the medical profession is very much a social phenomenon. Like any other professional sphere, it is affected by what people think about us. People form opinions about us, our methods, our skills, and our competence. This can impact positively or negatively on the reputation of a healthcare professional. Hence, medical school enrollees are taught the importance of social media networking and engagement to promote a positive image in the industry.
The impact of social media networking can also be seen from the patients who come complaining about the service they received from a healthcare provider. Social media helps healthcare practitioners and hospital administrators in addressing the issues brought forth by patients. A hospital administrator can create a thread on her blog, which directs interested persons to her Facebook page where they can get more details about her services. Alternatively, she can also upload pictures from her hospital room and interact with her patients on the same platform.
Another way through which social media is being used to enhance the quality of service provided by healthcare providers is by connecting healthcare education and practice. Since healthcare experts are using social media websites such as Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter, and various other interactive platforms to share information about their practice, medical schools have incorporated this into their curriculum to train future healthcare professionals. Such training is aimed at equipping students with the latest tools that can help them effectively engage their students and increase student retention and participation.
Online forums, medical blogs, and articles are some of the sources where medical professionals can publish their ideas and research findings. Online discussion forums are particularly beneficial to healthcare students because they can learn from seasoned medical practitioners and can ask questions. Medical blogs are useful platforms in imparting medical knowledge to the readers because they offer practical advice, tips, and insights. Similarly, online articles on medical issues are good sources of information because the articles are frequently updated and they provide comprehensive overviews of different topics. These types of articles are also a great way for medical schools to encourage student participation.
With all the potential applications of social media for healthcare and medical education, healthcare professionals must understand how it can benefit them. First and foremost, it makes it easier for them to connect with other medical professionals. Social media allows them to identify with other individuals and build long-term professional relationships. By sharing their ideas, medical students are also able to generate revenue. Finally, by participating in the dialogue of medical communities, students’ stories can go viral, allowing them to create a lasting impact. It’s no wonder that more healthcare professionals are taking advantage of the benefits of social media for healthcare.
Finally, medical schools can maximise the benefits of social media by providing opportunities for students to become mentors and role models. By engaging in online forums, participating in online discussion forums, and publishing student projects on medical websites, students can create a positive impact while making their careers brighter. This can significantly improve students’ self-confidence and enhance their ability to make wise decisions about their careers. Moreover, by sharing their stories and expertise through blogs and online articles, medical students can encourage other students in their institutions and medical schools to pursue similar interests.