University program examines efficacy of health messages via social media, mobile channels

Social media and healthcare once again are converging, this time at Davie, Fla.-based Nova Southeastern University. The school's College of Pharmacy recently launched its Center for Consumer Health Informatics Research, which will attempt to gauge the effectiveness of delivering health and wellness messages to patients via social media and mobile channels.

The center plans to use consumer health informatics--patient preferences and behaviors--to discover new ways to improve health. Tips based on those findings then will be distributed to patients through various social media platforms and mobile phones. Afterward, the center will analyze whether those interventions had any tangible impact on patients.

Specifically, the center will analyze its methods with regard to chronically ill patients--for example, those who suffer from diabetes or hypertension.

"We are hoping to unlock a treasure trove of information about patient health," center director and College of Pharmacy associate professor Kevin Clauson said in a statement. "The center plans to use technologies to deliver information to help e-patients make better decisions."

Other studies and projects are pointing to the potential of social media in healthcare. Earlier this month, a pair of studies found that Twitter analysis could predict health epidemics, and that Google Flu Trends could help hospital emergency departments determine future patient traffic.

Additionally, researchers from the University of California, San Diego said in November that the free pregnancy messaging program text4baby helped to jumpstart conversations between expecting mothers and their doctors.

To learn more:
- read the announcement

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