Unscrewing Medicine with Healthcare Social Media

Do you have a social media policy in your healthcare institution?

in Social Media by

Philippines ranks first in the global social media penetration according to a February 2011 market survey by Global Web Index. In this survey, it was also pointed out that asian countries do more ‘content sharing‘ than sharing messages as in other countries (UK, Canada). What is the implication of this survey results to Philippines’ healthcare system?

Philippines tops social media usage globally! (Infograph from Mashable by Global Web Index)

Possibly huge. Possibly positive. Sometimes, menacingly negative.

For Filipino patients, the surge of content sharing and social media usage puts a huge stress on prevailing (or lack of) Philippine laws that govern patient information confidentiality. The lackluster enforcement of such laws, if there is/was, is/are sporadic. One does not need to look further. The gruesome photos (trauma, surgical, etc) that somehow lands on your Facebook wall is a testament to this breach. It’s also not uncommon to read patient blogs, tweets and comments on Facebook that cast doubts on healthcare professionals or or institution’s credibility. Some even lead to sensational malpractice suits.

To healthcare professionals (physicians, nurses, allied medical professionals) the responsibility is even greater. In first world countries, there are stringent rules of engagement for healthcare professionals on how they relate to their patients and to healthcare institutions on social media. Such policy govern healthcare professionals employed in healthcare institutions and who’s social media usage directly or indirectly affects that of his or her employer. In the Philippines , while majority of healthcare professional and institutions  does not seem bothered  yet,  catastrophic consequences still hangs in the future . How many times have you encountered photos on Facebook that are in one way or another health patient or institution related? Too often?

For healthcare institutions, this surge is promisingly positive should they take advantage of social media usage. This study by the Global Web Index for example is a market survey for business entrepreneurs. This could be an area for healthcare institution to reach out, communicate to their clients and improve the institutions online visibility. This is what the Mayo Clinic, Mount Sinai hospital for example is doing crafting their own social media policy to enhance patient – institution communication.

Filipinos spend one fourth of a day on social media network.(Thanks to Dr. Iris Isip Tan for posting this infograph)

But without a policy to govern such social media practices by their employees (internal) or their patients (external), the healthcare institution risks running into so many potential negative social media issues aside from economic ones (employees using social media at the workplace).

As an afterthought, let me share another info graphic about use of health related IT technologies in US (source). Take a look at the social media usage. To think, Philippines is ‘ahead” of US in terms of per population social media usage. I don’t know if Philippines has have similar figures in terms of health related social IT. This should be an interesting research for healthcare markets.

Health related IT technologies usage in US (source)

So to answer this post title-question, I’m making an informal, non scientific survey here. This is open to all medical and allied medical professionals. Please answer the poll and please comment below if you need to explain your answer.

[poll id=”2″]

Thank you for voting!

Dr. Remo-tito Aguilar co-founded #HealthXPh. A board certified orthopedic surgeon, he is previously Chief of Clinics at St. Louis Hospital in Tacurong City and a consultant in Orthopedics at the Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao City. Dr. Aguilar is a healthcare social media evangelist and writes his medical musings at The Cast & Curious (www.remomd.com).

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