From the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) of 1996, to the progressive technological health care reform of today, the impact of social media has long been in the forefront of debate. In regards to the new age of health care professionals, many argue that social media will become an “integral” part of their health care practice (Ressler & Glazer, 2010). And together with the many great reasons for technological advancements, as social media becomes a dominant force, many are also still concerned about the implications on potential privacy issues against HIPPA.
For starters, it is important to realize the impact of social media in today’s culture. According to Ressler and Glazzer, more than 83% of the US population uses social media in some way or form. Whether it is browsing for news on Facebook, retrieving updates on Twitter, or simply attempting to find a definition using Google, there is no doubt that social media plays a grand master in the world of information and/or communication. Needless to say, social media is held as a common front between healthcare professionals and the general public.
With the two intertwined, it is believed that social media in healthcare will “play a larger role in education, communication, advocacy and collaboration” (Ressler & Glazer, 2010). Social media stresses to become an essential tool in the individualistic prevention of disease progression and continuation of client care. And as a result, social media becomes a supplemental resource for clients, outside of their collaborative healthcare team.
In regards to fiscal economics, another potential reason for utilizing social media in healthcare is to increase the buying power of future clients (Rozenblum & Bates, 2013). Just as the general public can utilize sites such as Yelp or Google to rationalize between restaurants, they can also use it to choose between healthcare teams. With that said, a sense of transparency stands within the means of healthcare. And as competition develops overtime, with the use of social media, it places an incentive on healthcare teams to drive healthcare costs down and develop a standard for providing a higher quality of care.
Aside from all the pros concerning social media, it can certainly have a detrimental impact on client privacy regulations. With social media tycoons, such as Facebook and Instagram, photographic media becomes easier than ever. According to Rozenblum and Bates, there were more than 1015 lawsuit cases in the US in 2012, regarding healthcare professional use of social media in violation of HIPPA. Needless to say, it is essential for healthcare regulators to continuously educate and advocate the updated guidelines on the use of social media in practice.
As a future nurse, I personally believe that social media can certainly play an important role in the client’s plan of care, but only if we consider the learning style of the client first. Social media only becomes useful to those who are willing and assimilated to the technological culture. Social media may well be easily incorporated into the plan of care for teenagers, young college students, etc. However, considering the plan of care for individuals in the baby boomer demographic, the willingness to be educated on the use of technological advancements must be assessed. This goes without saying that their potential to continue to utilize such technological resource, post-discharge, must also be assessed. In addition, as social media, technology, and cost can have a linear relationship, affordability must also be taken into consideration. Of course, all of this is said with rather an unbiased and objective point of view. I believe that though being knowledgeable and incorporating social media into a client’s plan of care can be beneficial; the healthcare team must be well rounded. And to that, a nurse must be able to educate both someone who is technologically advanced and someone who is as basic as pen and paper.
Ressler, P., & Glazer, G. (2010). Legislative: Nursing’s engagement in health policy and healthcare through social media. The Journal of Issues in Nursing, 16(1).
Rozenblum, R., & Bates, D. (2013). Patient-centred healthcare, social media and the internet: The perfect storm. The International Journal of Healthcare Improvement, 1-4.