Healthcare social media a 'moral obligation'

As social media continues to grow as a communications medium, so too does its impact in healthcare. According to a report published today by consulting firm PwC, patients increasingly are turning to social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter both to find and share medical information. What's more, of 1,060 surveyed consumers, 45 percent said that information obtained via social media could impact their decision to get a second opinion.

"Business strategies that include social media can help health industry companies to take a more active, engaged role in managing individuals' health," the report authors said. "Organizations should coordinate internally to effectively integrate information from the social media space and connect with their customers in more meaningful ways that provide value and increase trust."

The report's authors also found that 33 percent of responding consumers have used social media to find information about diseases posted by other patients; one-quarter of respondents said they'd actually posted information about their health experiences online.

Farris Timimi, M.D., medical director for the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media, talked about the impact, specifically of the former, at the ninth annual World Health Care Congress in Washington, D.C., on Monday, saying that social media needs to be grown and nurtured for patients.

"Our patients are there. Our moral obligation is to meet them where they're at and give them the information they need so they can seek recovery," Timimi said. "You've got to be ready for it. You build it for the patients; not for yourself.

"This is not marketing," he added. "This is the right thing to do."

To learn more:
- download the PwC report
- here's the accompanying announcement