Social media has become a part of our daily lives. No day can pass without us scrolling through the different social media platforms. Even if someone is not directly engaged with social media, they are influenced indirectly in some way or other.
Therefore, it creates an endless window of opportunities. With the right approach, health care professionals can revolutionize the overall attitude of people regarding health care. For this to happen, health care professionals have to come forward and embrace this changing dynamic of mass communication. Things they have to do include creating accounts, writing blogs, holding webinars, and most importantly active engagement with people.
To answer this query, How to use social media in healthcare: a guide for healthcare professionals, here are some suggestions.
The whole purpose of social media was to create a space where people can interact with each other and have access to real-time information. In this regard, health care professionals can share vital and life-saving information that is not commonly known.
For the starter, they can bust the myths that are associated with certain diseases or causes of diseases. Many people make their lives unnecessarily difficult or they just take certain issues too casually. For example, many people believe that Aids can spread through touch. Like this, many other myths need to be debunked. These myths add extra stress for people already suffering from these types of diseases.
Share best practices
Social media gives a chance to people to interact with people who they would never have come across. Similarly, health professionals from one side of the world can get connected to the other side of the world. This connection can help the community in a collective effort. They can share challenges they faced in their region and how they tackle them. So, if the same problem arises in the other region, professionals would know what to do.
This information sharing can be done through online seminars, conferences, or even on a meeting platform like zoom. In addition, health professionals from developed countries can train professionals from developing countries. In this way, they will be able to provide the world’s best care in their home countries.
Not all things about social media are positive. With the liberty of posting whatever you want under the banner of free speech, things have gotten out of hand. Especially, in times of Covid, we saw massive campaigns of misinformation. From questioning masks to vaccines and even raising suspicions at the Covid itself, we have seen it all.
In this scenario, the role of health care professionals becomes crucial. There are a variety of steps that can be taken to counter this misinformation on social media. The first thing would be to write as many blogs, tweets, and posts as possible. So that, there would be enough content available on the internet where people can find the right information.
However, if you want some to take more concrete steps, make videos, and debunk every false claim one by one. People are more likely to watch a video than to read. After making a video, do not limit yourself. Post that video on every platform that is widely used by the masses.
Learning is a never-ending process. Health professionals also have to keep learning new dynamics of different diseases. Through social media, education has become more accessible to all health professionals around the world. Many institutions and organizations now prefer to teach over social media. In this way, there is the easy availability of resources, flexible timing, and rewatching options for students through recorded lectures.
On social media, medical students can create discussion forums to discuss what they learned or have any confusion. These platforms also allow them to express their opinions which otherwise they would have not.
Through videos on social media, students can be given a real-life example of a medical problem which they might face. After that, they can share their observations and clinical advice. By doing that, they will be able to see different angles of observation and this will help them to be more efficient.
Answer patients queries
Now, due to the availability of the internet, many people prefer to self-diagnose them using internet searches. This is a very dangerous trend as most of the time they just overrate the extent of the problem. This incorrect self-diagnosis then starts to affect their mental health as they begin to overthink and get anxiety or depression.
Although healthcare professionals cannot stop them from doing this practice, you can help them do it better. You can do frequent QnAs to guide people as much as possible. In addition, health care professionals can also give tips and SOPs to tackle any medical emergency.
On social media, any kind of rumor can spread like wildfire. To prevent people from panicking and taking extreme measures, a credible voice is needed. When people listen to any news coming out of credible sources, they calm down and follow them.
A prime example can be Coronavirus. When it started spreading, people had no clue what to do. This triggered some panic buying and a state of chaos. However, when health care professionals came forward and explained the situation to people things started to settle down. The press conferences and instructions of the health care professionals were televised live and also on many social media platforms. This ensured the timely delivery of the message.
Some things to keep in mind if you find yourself in this situation can be, firstly, to explain the whole scenario. After that, build trust with your audience and explain to them what needs to be done. Next, provide a road map and a set of instructions as a solution. Lastly, communicate consequences if they are not able to comply with that advice.
If you are a health care professional in this era, social media is your greatest weapon. Do not shy away from it. Always remember that it is proven over time that only those things survive that can adapt.