With the plethora of healthcare options available via social media and various websites, it’s often difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff. How do you make informed choices about treatment options, doctors and health plans?
Social media can play an important role in addressing this common dilemma. While only medical professionals can answer questions requiring diagnosis and treatment strategies, social media can help people locate background information about an illness, its symptoms, and side-effects of common medications used to treat it.
Social Media – Rx for Decreased Patient and Physician Face Time
With the decreased patient and physician face time at routine visits, easy access to health care related information has become increasingly important for the typical health care consumer. Social media posts and connections with others can serve to inform and educate people who make health care decisions for themselves and their loved ones.
Arriving to a physician appointment armed with authoritative and accurate information about your health care status and any issues will likely please the doctor. A practitioner with limited time, and many patients still waiting and anxious for their slice of time, will appreciate a patient who takes an active role in his own health.
Websites, such as the NIH Drug Portal, feature a searchable platform where patients can learn more about prescription medications. Ostensibly, people can share what they’ve found with their physicians through social media, increasing overall patient satisfaction at an actual visit despite any long waits in the waiting room and decreased doctor face time.
Social Media Helps People Select Doctors
Social media helps people select doctors that more suitably match their individual needs more effectively than simply visiting a database listing physician education and experience. Sites like the CMS Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services list doctor education, years in practice and any pending or past disciplinary action involving the physician. But the digital word of mouth buzz on social media includes much more than these basics.
People will tweet, update a Facebook status, and post content on Google Plus about their great, average, or terrible experiences with current and past physicians. This carries far more weight than facts about education and years in practice obtained off of any website database.
The devil is, of course, in the details and the key to accessing quality healthcare information online is in figuring out which of the different social media posts and updates provides reliable and unbiased information. People must also discern which anecdotal stories and opinions arise out of true experience and not just sour grapes.
About the Author: Guest contributor Arun S. writes about health care and health-related news for a variety of websites.
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