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5 Social Media Challenges for Healthcare Providers

The number of active users on various social media platforms is increasing daily. There is no denying it; social media has influenced human relationships and their purchase decisions, and healthcare decisions are no different. Today, people turn to social media for all sorts of things, including gaining opinions and feedback from physicians.

Although the use of social media in medicine has its advantages and drawbacks, it is clear that the use of social media poses serious concerns for healthcare professionals. As widespread as it is, social media is still undergoing changes. As with the evolution of most other internet applications, the addition of more security features and privacy controls has heightened security, but is it enough?

Here are 5 social media challenges that healthcare providers should look out for:

Privacy issues

Although privacy tools and security policies have improved over the years to make social media ‘safer’, social media still poses compliance issues. Compliance is an issue that is typically at the top of every physician’s list. Direct messages with patients may inadvertently expose private information about a patient, which will ultimately violate HIPAA regulations. As such, physicians now need to acquaint themselves with the ethics of social media use.

There is no training

Doctors and many other professions have been intimidated by the rapid pace with which social media has become part of our daily lives. There is little to no training that is given to help doctors navigate the tough world of social media. Because social media navigation itself is a precise art, doctors should seek the assistance of a third party vendor that can assist with social media management until a training program is developed.

It allows for imprecise communication

For proper communication to occur, the communicating parties must be able to rely on a wide range of clues and gestures such as body language, the tone of voice, visual cues and so on, which cannot be identified on social media. When dealing with direct messages, the doctor’s ability to decipher these clues is highly diminished. This will consequently have an impact on the prescribed diagnosis. As such, doctors are required to ask a lot more questions to determine the problem at hand. This can be fixed easily with a face to face hospital visit.

It hinders the doctor’s capability

As stated above, verbal and non-verbal cues are important. For obvious reasons, physicians require a person to be present to make a proper diagnosis. The process of shining a light into one’s eyes and listening to a patient’s breath are not just futile exercises. The process of interacting with patients in this manner is important for disseminating health care and reducing the chances of giving patients the wrong diagnoses.

Control is lost

Doctors are also human; sometimes even they are unable to control what they say or what is said about them on social media. As such, social media robs people of control, which can be hard. With the rise of internet trolls, social media has become a dangerous place for both patients and doctors.

Saqib Ayaz is the co-founder of Workflow Management & Optimization, a technology, software and back-office services company, that provides every conceivable solution for your business and practices. I’m an expert in managed enterprise HR, technology outsourcing and practice management.

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Written by Saqib Khan

Saqib Ayaz is the co-founder of Workflow Management & Optimization, a technology, software and back-office services company, that provides every conceivable solution for your business and practices. I'm an expert in managed enterprise HR, technology outsourcing and practice management.

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