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Physicians Using Social Media to Share Information, Study Finds
A growing number of healthcare professionals are using social media platforms to find and share medical information, meaning HIPAA training policies should be reviewed to ensure compliance.
Thanks to social media sites, and other gratuitous tools such as free EMR software, it is becoming possible for physicians to improve patient care in cost effective ways. According to a study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, more and more physicians are using social media networks to stay up to date on current medical information and to share that information with colleagues and patients.
For the study, titled "Understanding the Factors That Influence the Adoption and Meaningful Use of Social Media by Physicians to Share Medical Information," researchers emailed a set of survey questions to a random sample of primary care physicians and oncologists across the United States. Four-hundred eighty-five physicians responded to the survey, and their answers were analyzed for the following: to identify how physicians are using social media to share and exchange medical information with other physicians, and to identify the factors that influence physicians’ use of social media as a component of their lifelong learning and continuing professional.
The following data was gathered:
- Accessing information: 24.1 percent reported using social media sites daily or many times daily to scan or explore medical information; and 61 percent reported using it weekly.
- Sharing information: 14.2 percent reported contributing new information daily, and 46 percent said they add material weekly.
Social media’s benefit to patient care: Many physicians expressed social media’s ability to improve patient care. In fact, 57.5 percent of respondents consider social media to be beneficial, engaging, and a good way to get current, high-quality information. Meanwhile, nearly 58 percent of physicians said that social media helped them care for patients more effectively – and 60 percent also said that social media helped improved quality of care.
Some of the social media platforms most used by physicians include Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and even YouTube. Though many healthcare professionals are conflicted about using social media to engage with patients, the fact is social media is quickly infiltrating the world of healthcare and it is here to stay. Concerned providers should review HIPAA training to ensure that they do not violate patient privacy regulations.