How Can Social Media Increase the Use of Preventive Healthcare?

By | June 16, 2020

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), preventive care services can save 100,000 lives a year. Daily, healthcare systems and providers focus on how to deliver primary prevention services best and how to ensure that the coordination of the payment models is providing such care. However, for optimal success to occur, we need to expand our outreach. Thus, for maximum achievement, it’s necessary to think outside our usual paradigm to enhance engagement with those we serve.

 Almost daily, the News publishes an article on how social media and digital platforms are influencing and impacting our behavior. For instance, consider all the conversations that occur regarding how that influence is affecting the election process. If one pivots to healthcare, how might one leverage it in the same manner, yet for the wellbeing of all? These platforms have the ability not only to reach a broader audience but also to target their focus to specific groups.

 Such activity happens on one of the most widely used social media platforms, Facebook. For instance, in 2017, Facebook succeeded in registering 35 million people worldwide as blood donors. Furthermore, In November of this past year, Facebook launched a Preventive Health tool on its mobile app. The app allows US users to evaluate information concerning health recommendations and as well as resources for primary prevention. This means, social media Platforms have the potential to reach millions and be incredibly impactful in target messaging to population segments.

 Another advantage of social media platforms particularly the ones in which we share common interests, or a social bond is their potential to influence us profoundly. In particular, we have witnessed the impact of this influence on encouraging immunizations.

 Since such outlets have the power to influence, we must guarantee that these platforms are pushing in positive directions. Such platforms must understand their role in healthcare as potential “providers.” This fact elevates the importance of the information shared and the platform’s ability to “keep up” with the latest recommendations. No longer can social media merely stipulate, “We are just a place for people to do whatever they want.” As is said often, with great freedom comes great responsibility.

 Therefore, it behooves the healthcare industry collaborate with the social media industry to help identify misinformation. Our medical societies, associations, and task-forces should be a leading source of information along with the utilization of our resources to advance a public health agenda. With collaboration across the two industries, we can communicate and activate the hard to reach populations in a manner that is engaging.

 Overall, as a society, the benefits of utilizing social media sites seem to outweigh the harms of the “big data” companies’ gathering of personal data, understanding our buying habits, who we associate with, and what items we like, etc. However, do we feel the same way concerning our health information? For example, if I “like” a cancer prevention site, does that mean I have cancer, or does it mean it concerns me?

 With the ability to access a large amount of information and data, let us collaborate and leverage all the tools in our toolbox to enhance primary prevention while simultaneously protecting the information of those we serve.