The last time you went to the doctor, did you go feeling completely unprepared, or did you educate yourself online before you went ?
Health information is increasingly available online. There are blogs dedicated to listing fitness and diet sites that make it easy for consumers to keep up with new information, or simply have several references to be able to compare.
According to a study published in the New York Times, your weight is effected by your friends; “you change your idea of what is an acceptable body type by looking at the people around you”.
Social media, however, has changed the idea of who “the people around you” are. Interacting with people in other regions and countries is now much more common. Communities are now available for patients and doctors to share information and build relationships without ever meeting in person.
This approach is not as common in some countries as in others, however. According to Roland Cayrol of the CSA Institute, patients in France, for example, are less likely to use information technology to ask health questions, and are more likely to rely on face-to-face interactions.There is a value and a warmth in human interactions that technology cannot offer, no matter how advanced it may be.
Already in France, however, is a system put into place by Orange which has been praised for its capacity to monitor insulin-dependant patients. New technologies are helping hospitals reduce the number of in-patients and thus avoid overcrowding.
Image via: http://edgewatertech.wordpress.com/2009/03/31/hospital-and-health-provider-web-20-trends-and-opportunities/
What do you think? Should hospitals use social media to provide patient care?