Pros and Cons of Social Media for Health Professionals

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Many social media sites are accessible for health care professionals (HCPs),

comprising of social networking platforms, blogs, microblogs, podcast, wikis, and virtual reality and gaming domains. These mechanisms can be used to enhance or strengthen skilled networking and pedagogy, administrative promotion, patient care, patient pedagogy, and public health strategies. Regardless, they also present possible risks to patients and health care professionals regarding the diffusion of poor-quality data, damage to proficient image, violations of patient privacy, breach of personal–professional barriers, and licensing or legal cases

What exactly is social media?

The meaning of “social media” is vast and continuously developing. The term normally implies Internet-based tools that enable people and communities to gather and communicate; to share data, ideas, personal messages, pictures, and other content; and, in some cases, to unite with other users in real-time.

Social media sites procure a variety of characteristics that perform different objectives for the individual user, which can be grouped by their objective and serving functions such as:

– Social networking – Facebook, Google Plus, Twitter, Instagram

– Professional networking – LinkedIn

– sharing media and content – YouTube, Flickr

– Content production -blogs [Tumblr, Blogger] and microblogs [Twitter]

– Knowledge sharing – Wikipedia

Use of social media by health care professionals –

Social media enable health care professionals with tools to share knowledge, contest health care policy and exercise topics, stimulate healthy behaviors, engage with society, and inform and interact with patients, guardians, students, and colleagues. Health care professionals can utilize social media to potentially enhance health outcomes, expand a professional network, boost personal awareness of information and discoveries, motivate patients, and deliver health information to the community.


Pros of Social media in healthcare practice –
  1. Professional Networking

The most prominent social media sites for doctors are those where they can partake in online communities, listen to professionals, and propagate and communicate with colleagues regarding patient’s problems. The use of social media by physicians also often focuses on information and communication with colleagues. The social-networking sites used for experienced networking are frequently exclusively available and precisely cater to the community within these professions. Besides medical topics, conversations on these sites express various subjects, such as morality, politics, biostatistics, practice administration and career techniques. They can also contribute to a supportive environment for health care professionals who subspecialize.

Another instance of professional networking among health care professionals is crowdsourcing, which implicates curbing the knowledge and skills of a community to solve problems or to gather evidence and impressions.

  1. Professional Education

The information communication abilities given by social media are also being employed to enhance clinical education. The high procedure rate of social media by 18- to 29-year-olds has motivated the modification of clinical curriculum to reflect the altering habits and culture of incoming students. Numerous studies have characterized the use of social fora tools to enhance clinical students’ knowledge of communication, professionalism, and morality. Institutes are also utilizing social media to volunteer students, boost access to educational libraries, and establish virtual classrooms and office hours, as well as additional unique understanding experiences.

  1. Organizational Promotion

Health care institutions, comprising hospitals, health systems, experienced societies, drug companies, patient advocacy groups, and pharmacy advantage companies, are utilizing social media for many goals. Uses comprise communicating with the population and patients; improving administrative visibility; marketing products and services; organizing a venue for acquiring news about activities, publicity, and fund-raising; delivering a channel for patient reserves and education; and delivering customer service and support. It has been calculated that 70% of health care organizations in the US use social media, with Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram being the most popular. Blog forum is also used by many clinical centres and hospitals.

  1. Patient Care

Although there has been a hesitancy among health care professionals to use social media for candid patient care, this method is gradually being adopted by physicians and health care faculties. For example, Georgia Health Sciences University has delivered patients with a permit to a forum called WebView, which enables the subjects to reach their physicians to ask their queries or to propose any prescription refills. Indication suggests that electronic broadcast with sufferers can enhance their care and health consequences. Studies prove that supplementary electronic communication promotes doctor’s advice and enhances steadfastness for patients with lasting diseases. It may also enhance patient fulfilment and satisfaction by increasing the duration spent discussing and having queries answered by their doctors.

Cons of social media in healthcare practice

  1. Poor Quality of Information

The main constraint of health-related data found on social media and other online references is a lack of quality and trustworthiness. Writers of medical data found on social media sites are often unknown or are recognized by limited evidence. In addition, the medical data may be unreferenced, inadequate, or informal. While evidence-based medication de-emphasizes anecdotal summaries, social media tend to promote them, relying on individual patient anecdotes for communal medical knowledge. Similar dilemmas exist with conventional online media; however, the interactive essence of social media magnifies these problems, since any user can post content to a site.

  1. Damage to Professional Image

A major threat correlated with the use of social media is the posting of amateurish content that can evaluate unfavorably on health care professionals, students, and interconnected institutions. Social media convey data about a person’s attitude, integrity, and priorities, and the first notion generated by this content can be prevailing. Perceptions may be established on any of the data featured in a social media profile, such as pictures, nicknames, posts, comments and suggestions liked or shared, as well as the pals, reasons, institutions, games, and outlets that a person follows. Behavior that could be partaken as amateurish includes breaches of patient secrecy; the use of obscenity or unfair language; pictures of sexual suggestiveness or intemperance; and negative comments about patients, an employer, or a college.

  1. Privacy Breach

Compliance is something that’s commonly top of the psyche for healthcare specialists. Direct discussions with patients may inadvertently uncover patient’s health information and violate HIPAA laws. HIPAA, as revised by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, regulates the licensed use and exposure of patient information by private entities, comprising health care professionals and clinics. The HITECH act features privacy-breach information regulations and broadens various laws to include business affiliates.

  1. Time Issues

Social media is not a one-way-shot deal. To be prosperous, it takes devotion and continued endeavors. It takes time to establish or curate content, govern your page, respond to comments and evaluate metrics. You may require your staff or a third-party agent to help with social media administration.


When used along with brains and prudently, social media platforms and fora propose the prospect to stimulate personal and public health, as well as proficient development and advancement. Nonetheless, when used recklessly, the threats these technologies present to health care professionals are alarming. Procedures issued by health care institutions and professional communities contribute understandable, practical and useful doctrines that health care professionals should follow to avert ambushes.