SocialMedia and Healthcare
Theadvent of technology has revolutionized the conventional way ofoffering health services. Consequently, health institutions andassociations have begun using technology to provide services to theirstaff/members and patients through technologies such as social media.Simply put, social media is perceivable as internet-based tools thatcommunities utilize to gather, communicate, or share ideas regardingparticular topics (Walrave,Ponnet, Vanderhoven, Haers, & Segaert, 2016).Also, such platforms can be utilized to share images, personalmessages, or other collaborative content in real time. These sitescan also be understood as social networking sites or Web 2.0. Socialmedia platforms such as Twitter and Facebook have been proven to beefficient ways of improving patient care and education, professionalnetworking, organizational promotion, and public health programs(Ventola,2014).Conversely, such sites can be damaging to healthcare institutionssince they can damage the professional image of caregivers,disseminate poor quality information, violate professional andpersonal boundaries, or breach patient privacy. This paper discussesthe upsides and downsides of using social media in public healthcommunication, the manner in which the Healthcare Association of NewYork State engages with its users through Facebook and the changesthat could be instituted to ensure that efficient communicationbetween the public and the healthcare professionals is realized.
Employingsocial media to deliver public health information has numerousupsides. To begin with, social networking sites offer a broadplatform for professional networking. Through social media, healthpractitioners get the opportunity to listen to experts, participatein online communities, communicate and network with colleagues aboutpatient issues (Ventola,2014).In the same vein, social sites are evolving to offer professionaleducation. Clinical curricular has been adapted to reflect theevolving habits of the incoming students (Ventola,2014).This adaptation has improved the understanding of ethics,professionalism, and communication by clinical students.Additionally, the use of social media to provide direct care isgradually being adopted. Studies indicate that about 60% ofphysicians feel comfortable educating and communicating with theirpatients online (Ventola,2014).
Conversely,the use of social media in public health communication has variousdrawbacks. The primary challenge of the information that is found onsocial media sites is poor quality and a lack of reliability(Ventola,2014).The authors of such information are usually unknown or are identifiedby limited information. Another downside is the posting ofunprofessional content that may paint a negative picture ofhealthcare practitioners, students, or the affiliated healthinstitutions. People usually base their perceptions of organizationson the priorities, values, or personalities that such unions portray.Thus, the posts, nicknames, photos, and comments that appear on thewall of a reputable institution may have a lasting impact on the eyeof the public. Thus, if a person uploads an immoral image on the pageof a particular organization, people will develop a negative pictureof the group. Additionally, the use of social networking sites isalso connected to the breach of patient confidentiality (Ventola,2014).Some patients may not give healthcare practitioners the consent topublish their cases online. The publishing of such cases leads to aviolation of the federal Health Insurance Portability andAccountability Act, which governs the use and disclosure of patientinformation by health practitioners and hospitals.
Theabove assertions can be applied to the Healthcare Association of NewYork State (HANYS). The HANYS is the only care association andstatewide hospital in the New York region (HealthcareAssociation of New York State, 2017).The institution is located in Albany and represents approximately 500non-profit organizations, nursing homes, public hospitals, and otherhealthcare organizations. The members of the association are not onlyranked among the largest providers of outpatient and inpatient care,but also the essential givers of primary care. In essence, theassociated affiliate institutions are among the greatest employers inthe New York area. The organization gains authority from developing aunited statewide membership and collaborating with the associationsthat are found at the regional, state, and national levels. The HANYSpresents its issues before government institutions like the StateLegislature, Congress, the Governor’s office, and the federal andstate agencies (HealthcareAssociation of New York State, 2017).Additionally, the organization offers data analytics, education,quality improvement initiatives, and operational assistance to enableits members to navigate through the vicissitudes of the healthcarereform. The actions of the organization also help its members torealize the “Triple Aim” of better care, lower costs, and betterhealth. Additionally, the Healthcare Association of New York Stateengages its followers by posting the proceedings of the organizationon Facebook.
The Healthcare Association of New York State posts the concerns ofthe organization on Facebook. A case in point is the removal ofSenator Schumer from the discussion that centered on the future ofhealthcare in New York and the US in general (Facebook,2017).Additionally, the organization posts information regarding theconsequences of the health reforms that America undergoes, forexample, the impact of the Obamacare repeal on the lives of the NewYork residents (Facebook,2017).The HANYS’ Facebook page also reveals the career path of theorganization’s president, Bea Grause. This information acquaintsthe group`s followers with the knowledge of Bea’s career and herresponsibilities. The reader is also acquainted with an understandingof Grause’s thoughts about the healthcare system she talks aboutthe ways in which the healthcare structure can be improved. Finally,the organization’s posts reveal Bea’s talks at the EmpireCenter’s panel on HCRA (Facebook,2017).In essence, the information that the Healthcare Association of NewYork State uploads on its page shows the central role and authorityof the organization in matters concerning healthcare in the New Yorkarea. The centrality of the organization in the healthcare realm isalso a reflection of its engagement with its members.
TheHealthcare Association of New York State engages with its users at arelatively high level. Although the followers of the company rarelycomment on the posts that the organization uploads, there are variouschannels through which a member can communicate to the group. Forexample, a follower can send a private message to the HealthcareAdministrator and get a prompt response if the administrator isonline. Alternatively, an individual can make a call to the companysince the HANYS’ telephone number is available on the company’spage. The Twitter account of the organization is also accessible if amember prefers a different social media site. The physical locationof the institution has also been displayed on the page thus, one canpay the company a visit if he prefers face-to-face communication.These channels of communication show the willingness of theorganization to interact with its members. Nonetheless, thereluctance, by the followers of the company, to respond to thecontent that the company uploads is indicative of an inadequateengagement approach.
The Healthcare Association of New York State can improve interactionwith its followers by instituting some measures. For example, theimplementation of creative strategies can significantly increase thenumber of responses on the company’s Facebook page. Innovativestrategies are usually transformational or functional approaches thatare intended to inspire desired responses. (Ashley&Tuten, 2014).The HANYS’ page is, to a larger extent, an informationdissemination platform. The organization uploads information that istoo general thus, the members of the group or healthcarepractitioners cannot relate with what HANYS posts at a personallevel. The administrator of the page should consider posting issuesthat address dilemmas like the conditions of healthcare facilitiesand the appropriateness of the budget that has been allocated to thehealth sector. Such matters concern health practitioners hence, theywill feel compelled to respond to the organization`s posts.
Ina recap of the above discussion, communicating public health messagesthrough social media has various advantages and disadvantages. Forexample, social media sites have improved professional networking,patient care, and public health programs. Conversely, such platformsare prone to challenges such as the dissemination of poor qualityinformation that can damage the reputation of healthcareinstitutions. The Healthcare Association of New York State engageswith its followers through Facebook. The organization uploadsdifferent posts about its healthcare activities and those of thenation at large. Although the group`s page is relatively active, someimprovements could lead to the development of content that is moreengaging, as discussed above.
Ashley,C. &Tuten, T. (2014). Creative Strategies in Social MediaMarketing: An Exploratory Study of Branded Social Content andConsumer Engagement. Retrieved fromhttp://tracytuten.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Ashley_et_al-2015-Psychology__Marketing.pdf
Facebook.(2017). HealthcareAssociation of New York State. Facebook.com.Retrieved 16 January 2017, fromhttps://www.facebook.com/pg/HealthcareAssociation/posts/
HealthcareAssociation of New York State. (2017). AboutHANYS – HANYS. Hanys.org.Retrieved 16 January 2017, from https://www.hanys.org/about/
Ventola,L. (2014). Social Media and Health Care Professionals: Benefits,Risks, and Best Practices. JournalFor Managed Care And Hospital Formulary Management.Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4103576/
Walrave,M., Ponnet, K., Vanderhoven, E., Haers, J., &Segaert, B. (2016).Youth2.0: social media and adolescence(1st ed., p. 105).