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Can Social Media Help Improve Healthcare?

By Adam Rantz

A study was recently published stating that patients would be agreeable to a link between their social media profiles and data contained in their medical record. This probably will come as a shock to older patients, but for younger patients it's more or less a non issue.

Young people seem to be on board with social sharing

Over ten years ago, when Facebook was first gaining traction with college kids across the country, it would have been laughable to think that a website devoted to posting pictures of beer-fueled parties and stalking out coed profiles would one day have the potential of providing the kind of insight to medical professionals that could make the difference in a life and death situation. Facebook, and social media in general, has come a long way.

In the minds of younger patients, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are standard forms of communication and personal journal platforms that reveal a detailed view into a person's life. For most of these users, everything that happens to them during their waking life is fair game for a post or tweet. Since social media has made the jump from college dorms to corporate boardrooms, and you can just as easily connect with a friend as you can a tech savvy hospital, it seems to be a natural progression for the cultural phenomenon of social media to have a positive impact on an individual's health. 

The idea of electronic social healthcare, in regards to how open people are to discussing their conditions online, is still a taboo. Patients with medical conditions often think that they should be either embarrassed or protective of their medical information. It is a definite possibility that people can still face discrimination when it comes to certain diseases or conditions, especially when searching for and maintaining gainful employment. So, what is the best way for patients to electronically share information on their conditions with medical professionals and their peers on a social platform? With anonymity. 

At Healthjump, we have a social platform that allows patient members to create, maintain or join user groups in a completely anonymous manner. As long as the user takes the necessary actions to create an alias, he/she has the confidence in knowing that the discussions on that group's wall will never be linked back to the individual's true identity. Of course, if patients want to post under their real name, more power to them.

Healthjump Social is not exactly what the study was researching, but it is really encouraging to know that there was a 70% majority interest in sharing social information with a medical professional to provide a complete scope of a person's activities, thoughts and emotions. Hopefully this progresses and the tech community continues to innovate and push this issue, because it has to potential to make some very positive changes to the entire healthcare community. In the mean time, patients should be encouraged to be more open with their medical information in the hopes of fostering meaningful conversations and establishing trust with loved ones and support groups.


by Adam Rantz

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