Social media channels basically refer to an internet-based medium that enables individuals and organizations to obtain and communicate information. These social networking’s are greatly used by healthcare professionals to acquire knowledge regarding various medical problems and share with their clients. Social media channels include Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pheed, Thumb, Chirp, Ask.fm, Learnist, RebelMouse, Yammer, Plaxo, Ning, Xing, WeChat, Tumblr, WhatsApp, Kik, PicsArt, hi5, Buzznet, Snapchat, About.me, Archetypes, Listgeeks, keek, Tsu and Rounds. Pheed allows its users to share images, videos and music with a set cost for their content. Thumb enables its users to ask questions and obtains their answers in real time. Yammer promotes privacy within an organization since the only users who can access it are those within a particular internet domain. Ask.fm is structured in a question and answer format whereby users ask each other questions and offer answers to those questions in form of images or videos.
Benefits and challenges of using social media for public health communication
Benefits of using social media
To the professionals
Social media allows healthcare professionals to share knowledge, to discuss healthcare policy and arising issues (Heldman, Schindelar & Weaver, 2013). Public Health communication help health behaviours to involve themselves with the general public, offer education and training to the public and connect amongst themselves and with the patients at large. Healthcare providers can use social networking to improve health outcomes greatly, improve on awareness by individuals on discoveries, encourage patients and offer health information to the entire community. Professionals usually engage in social networking with an objective of reading new articles, listening to experts, consulting colleagues regarding patients matter, and researching medical development. Social media can be used to bring together healthcare providers of the third-world nations with specialists in more medically advanced regions. For example, during the incidences of emergencies, a healthcare provider can ask for help in surgical procedures and obtain feedback immediately through tweeter for instance where feedback is offered in real time.
With the help of social media channels, healthcare providers are able to connect with their patients online. A Social media channels such as tweeter and Facebook promotes high levels of privacy regarding client’s information. Professionally, healthcare providers are not supposed to disclose any information relating to any of their patients as it is against the law. Social networking allows a healthcare provider to offer education and training to his or her patient and supervise them to ensure they are doing what is right in relation to their health well-being. A professional is able to promote good behaviour and encourage them to take their medicines as prescribed by a professional.
Social media channels enable patients to gain knowledge useful to their health condition through carrying out a research using tools such as twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn for instance. A large number of patients may prefer to obtain medical services through internet-based channels as this will contribute to reduced cases of stigmatization. Depending on one’s illness, he or she may fear to visit health centres thus, social media channels are important tools. Fact-finding has shown that interventions based on social media can positively contribute to loss of weight by individuals who are obese, quit smoking by the tobacco addicts, and reduced cases of individuals involving in the risky sexual activity. This attribute leads to a healthy life. With the help of social media, patients are able to interact with other individuals with the same kind of a disease hence, allowing them to share on healthy tips.
Challenges of using social media for public health communication
Poor quality information: This is the main disadvantages of health information obtained by individuals from social media as it lacks quality and reliability hence patients may fear to apply those healthy tips even when it might be of help to them. Measures to this limitation are that the healthcare providers should guide patients to websites which are properly pre-reviewed where information is of high quality and can be relied upon.
Breaches of patient privacy: Not all healthcare providers adhere to laws and policies that guide them such as non-disclosure of patient’s information, discriminating some patients as a result of their race, colour, religion or political differences. Some healthcare providers may disclose their patient’s information on social media which is unethical practice and may lead to lowered self-esteem and self- confidence of the affected patient.
Violation of the patient-HCP Boundary: Healthcare providers should set boundaries which the patients should not violate such as privacy settings and terms of an agreement between the two parties hence avoiding violating the patient-HCP boundary.
Licensing issues: In case there is an occurrence of the violation of the patient-HCP boundaries, with the healthcare provider being the cause such as for asking favours from patients as a result of the help he or she is offering, penalties such as suspension are enforced on him or her as this may cause professional image damage (Meier & Ayala, 2014). The perspective upon which a particular organization is viewed may change once anything unprofessional such as sexually related images has been posted which can be intentionally or unintentionally.
LinkedIn and how Pan American Health Organization uses it to share information
The social media organization that I have selected is LinkedIn. In the United States of America, LinkedIn is the most social media used by the professionals. In the healthcare field the organization usually shares information related to good health and improved quality of life which will enable the Americans to have a standard life. Pan American Health Organization was founded in December 1902. It is one of the oldest international public health agency which offers specialized cooperation and control collaboration to enhance a healthy and quality life in America’s nations. Its main objective is to ensure that all the Americans have a standard life. Its headquarters are located in Washington D.C. and it has a membership of United Nations system.
Degree to which Pan American Health Organization link with its followers in
The degree by which The Pan American Health Organization connect with users is high and can be rated above 80% (Alexander, 2014). The organization has set a department whose duties are to respond to individuals questions in real time, engage its members in conversation whereby, their opinions and complaints are taken into account if necessary. The department interacts with the experts on issues relating to health and quality Americans life hence, offering to the general public reliable information. The department also updates their potential clients whenever anything new may arise such as technology.
Improvements on Pan African Organization in regards to social media engagement
To conclude, The Pan American Organization should organize contests whereby its clients are supposed to compete and won themselves rewards hence, attracting new clients. Organize a question and answer forum whereby, the client questions will be heard and answered one on one hence building that bond that creates a sense of being part of that organization to the client. Finally, the organization should ensure that it always post about the present happenings which ensure that the clients are up-to-date. The clients will remain to be part of that organization and even influence their friends as a result of quality services being offered.
Alexander, D. E. (2014). Social media in disaster risk reduction and crisis management. Science and Engineering Ethics, 20(3), 717-733.
Heldman, A. B., Schindelar, J., & Weaver, J. B. (2013). Social media engagement and public health communication: implications for public health organizations being truly “social”. Public Health Reviews, 35(1), 13.
Meier, B. M., & Ayala, A. S. (2014). The Pan American Health Organization and the mainstreaming of human rights in regional health governance. The Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics, 42(3), 356-374.