Social media in health care began with the formation of a number of interactive web sites, including SERMO, and iMedXchange some time ago. SERMO and iMedXchange are more formal, and almost a peer reviewed forum requiring authorization and proof of a medical license. They cover subjects organized by specialty category and have business management and policy reform categories.
One could also include the many ‘listserv’ forums as social media, although not immediately interactive it functioned as a ready solution for communications. Chat rooms came into existence in the form of mIRC, AOL messenger, MSN messenger, and other chats in Facebook, and Skype
If today’ s most popular social media is considered, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Tumbler, and Foursquare come to mind.
Google + is relatively new, beginning in July 2011, and not yet one year old. Despite the fact that Facebook is the most popular platform and twitter is heavily used, Google launched Google + and a videoconferencing capability for ten users simultaneously. For the uninitiated Google + is somewhat more cumbersome and technically challenging for new users.
Each social media platform has its own set of strengths and weaknesses differing in linking friends and messaging. One major factor is the extent of privacy settings, and who can see your posts.
Initialling designed for short texting (as in Twitter) and ‘friending’ as in Facebook iSocial media has grown into a marketing tool for business purposes in and enhancing visibility and search engine ranking.
A recent study has revealed an increase in physician use of social media for both for personal and professional use. Personal use far exceeds the professional ;use of social media, however the trend is changing as professionals become more familiar and standards for it’s use are promulgated by medical societies.
In setting standards the medical organizations give implicit approval for the use of social media with emphasis on protecting patient confidentiality and privacy. And many health organizations recognize the strength of social media as it relates to direct patient relationships and as a means of increasing their visibility in cyberspace advertising their hospital and meetings and centers of excellence.
Google abandoned it’s Google Health Record due to lack of interest on the part of patients, lack of a support base with EMRs and a nervousness on the part of health providers as to the security and privacy of patient’s EHRs
Google + with their new social media platform has expressed a direct interest in supporting advocacy and support applications for disabled people, and for professional use. They have already developed special screen readers for use in chat rooms and on Google hangouts for visually impaired patients.
We have had some success in early development of “Blind Veterans Help Desk” as part of the Veterans Workshop. This non-profit organization will facilitate the use of Google technology so that deaf veterans and blind veterans can assist each other and also facilitate caregivers improving communications and assistance to patients requiring support and/or in home health service. Google hangouts may reduce the frequency of at home visits by visiting nurses, or post hospitalization. In my opinion the potential is endless.
We will be announcing a mechanism for interested parties to contribute to veterans wellness through the Veterans Workshop
We expect an announcement and demonstration around Memorial Day of this year.