How Social Media is Revolutionizing the Healthcare Industry?

| Updated on March 21, 2024

Social media has had a profound impact on the healthcare industry, revolutionizing the way pharma companies and medical professionals interact with patients and each other.

Thanks to social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, pharma companies now have access to more sophisticated marketing tools. This allows them to engage directly with their target audiences and build lasting relationships.

In addition, these platforms also enable doctors to share the latest research findings and product information with other medical professionals, which can improve clinical practices. Plus, it helps them tackle the challenges of healthcare marketing.

New Way of Thinking About Healthcare

Modern and traditional healthcare support vast differences between them. Traditional healthcare follows the idea that the body is a machine that can be fixed with surgery or medication. 

Whereas, modern healthcare thinks of the body as a complex system that should be treated as a whole. This means that doctors today are more likely to recommend lifestyle changes or natural therapies over surgery or medication.

Moreover, now the healthcare system is not solely about curing a disease, but also about preventing it. However, there is one thing playing a huge role in this change – Social Media.

The Impact on the Diagnosis Process

Social media is helping speed up the diagnosis process in numerous ways. This includes providing a digital forum for people to share their symptoms and experiences. 

Through online surveys and live sessions, doctors get an actual insight into the illness. They form a better understanding of the disease and develop a treatment plan more quickly.

Furthermore, there are many online support groups and communities where people with similar conditions can share information about their experiences and find resources for treatment. Patients can also use social media to connect with such people, which can be both reassuring and helpful.

Tracking Outbreaks of Diseases

Another significant role that social media plays today in healthcare is to aid with the detection and tracking of disease outbreaks. In earlier times, this used to be done using traditional methods such as sending out alerts or issuing public notices.

Now, every update is just a ping away from everyone. It only takes a post on social media to spread the information worldwide. There can’t be a faster way to provide warnings of potential outbreaks in the public.

Not only that, even the government uses social media to spread the tips of precautions a person must take. This helps them control the spread of the disease throughout the country.

How Social Media Aided Healthcare in the Past?

Social media’s influence on healthcare is undeniable, and it’s making a significant contribution to the shift. Allowing people to connect over the internet, it makes people aware of the latest health trends in the world.

2014 Ebola Outbreak

One recent example of this was the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa. By monitoring social media, health officials were able to track the spread of the disease and take steps to contain it. This saved countless lives and helped to prevent the outbreak from becoming a global pandemic.

COVID-19 Pandemic

Although attempts to contain the outbreak of COVID-19 were unsuccessful, the virus quickly spread all around the world. It’s an undeniable fact that media platforms helped massively in the pandemic era by providing the latest updates about the outbreak.

They became one of the primary mediums through which people could keep up with the number of cases or levels of danger, and support each other without going out of their houses. All the social media campaigns held by then were responsible for spreading awareness in the areas.

For example, there are many groups on Facebook that are set up specifically to help people during this period. These groups are a place where people can ask for help with things like shopping or getting food. They can also offer help to others who may need it.

Outlining the Risks and Challenges 

While social media can be a valuable resource for both doctors and patients, it also gives rise to various risks and challenges for the healthcare industry.

  • One such risk is that patients may not be completely honest about their symptoms when posting online. This could lead to inaccurate diagnoses if doctors rely too heavily on such posts.
  • Additionally, patients may not be aware of all the privacy implications of sharing personal health information online. This could lead to sensitive information being shared publicly without the patient’s consent.
  • Some posts might be simply made for popularity purposes and somehow provide misleading information.

While social media can be a useful tool in the diagnosis process, it is important to use it carefully and in conjunction with other information sources.

Recognizing the Responsibilities

Even though the advantages of having a quick and easy flow of information are enormous, there is a danger of getting caught up in a web of false news. Similar to any valid information, false news can also be spread quickly causing significant damage to disease monitoring and containment efforts.

Unfortunately, there are many channels that are prioritized towards generating more views. They do not take responsibility for the impact their content makes on society.

Fortunately, social media companies have the ability to control the content on their platforms and prevent the spreading of misinformation through these channels. 

One example is when Twitter removed a tweet from US President Donald Trump that made false claims about the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for COVID-19. The media giant stated that the tweet violated its rules about sharing misleading information with the public.

The Future of Healthcare and Social Media

The future of healthcare will undoubtedly be fueled by technology and social media will play an important role in this. For that, we also need to strengthen our understanding of social media and technology. Moreover, hospitals must ensure to educate their staff on the ethical use of such tools as part of their working practice.

We need to be mindful of the risks associated with social media and ensure that we are protecting patient confidentiality throughout our professional interactions.

We have seen the value of social media in healthcare and its help in disease management, motivating patients, and improving access or quality of care are some examples. If used appropriately, it is clear that the benefits outweigh any perceived negative effects. Right beside it, there will also be blockchain technology helping with healthcare in the future. 

Lastly, we need to embrace and use social media for the benefit of the patients’ health outcomes. It has great potential for improving access to services, as well as allowing vulnerable patient groups to have a voice and an opportunity to express their concerns.

Khushboo Chhibber

Senior Web Writer and Video Creator

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