Social Media and Healthcare

I recently completed a discussion paper on Consumer eHealth for a client.  In my research, I found that the rapid adoption of social media applications such as Facebook and Twitter by the general public has not gone unnoticed by healthcare organizations and providers. Ed Bennett, a hospital web manager, tracks U.S. hospital use of social networking tools.  According to Mr. Bennett’s blog, 473   U.S. hospitals are currently using YouTube, Facebook, twitter, or a blog (up from 410 when I completed the report six weeks ago).

An article[1] in the Telemedicine and e-Health Journal listed offers some thoughts on how Twitter might be employed by healthcare organizations:

  • Disaster alerting and response
  • Diabetes management (blood glucose tracking)
  • Drug safety alerts from the Food and Drug Administration
  • Biomedical device data capture and reporting
  • Shift-bidding for nurses and other healthcare professionals
  • Diagnostic brainstorming
  • Rare diseases tracking and resource connection
  • Providing smoking cessation assistance
  • Broadcasting infant care tips to new parents
  • Post-discharge patient consultations and follow-up care

I noticed this morning that the Ontario Hospital Association is hosting a workshop on social media entitled “Social Media Demystified: Best Practices and Setting Strategy with Confidence” on 21 January 2010.  Clearly there is interest in the Ontario health sector and I look forward to seeing how Ontario healthcare organizations embrace social media.


[1] “Twittering Healthcare: Social Media and Medicine”, Telemedicine and e-Health Journal, Vol 15, No. 6, July/August 2009,

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