More and more patients turn into the worldwide web for medical information. Social media sites such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter are frequently visited by patients and physicians alike for obtaining additional knowledge about their diseases, conditions and medications. Information is readily available in the worldwide web and patients who have internet access tend to utilize these data to further understand their condition and self-manage their diseases. Not only that, but these sites serve as communication hubs and forums for patients and healthcare professionals as well, where diseases and treatment options can be discussed and shared with other patients; thus encouraging more patient interaction and involvement.
The role of the social media in reaching out to patients and practitioners alike is now being explored by different pharmaceutical companies. In a report published in www.imshealth.com entitled “Engaging Patients through Social Media”, Executive Director Murray Aitken discusses the impact that the social media has on patient care and clinical practice.
According to Murray, pharmaceutical companies now “increasingly see social media as a means to engage with consumers and patients regarding medicines.” He emphasized that the use of social media in healthcare cannot be underestimated. Furthermore, he mentioned that all those who are involved in the healthcare business, including physicians and pharmaceutical companies, should exploit this fact and comprehend this current development to be able to take advantage of it.
In the report, it was found out that among the top 50 pharmaceutical companies, 23 of them use social media to reach out to patients. It also showed that large drug companies have less social media involvement than middle sized pharmaceutical manufacturers. Furthermore, the study found that regulatory agencies such as the US Food and Drug Administration are also actively participating in the social media stream particularly through its Facebook page. This goes to show that even the regulators of the industry fully understands the potential of the social media to be an effective means of information dissemination.
This trend in the social media and the healthcare industry is expected to increase, according to Murray. Furthermore, he points out that there is an increasing number of patients use the social media environment to reach out and effectively engage and take charge of their own health. These facts highlight “the need for relevant, accurate content that can be accessed and used throughout the patient journey”.
Read the complete report here: www.theimsinstitute.org.