Relevance of Social Media In Healthcare - Nursing Critical Analysis Assessment Answer

December 14, 2018
Author : Andy Johnson

Solution Code: 1ABCB

Question: Relevance of Social Media In Healthcare

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Nursing Critical Analysis Assignment

Assignment Task

What the advantages/disadvantages of using this medium in healthcare and what are your responsibilities as a registered nurse?

You are to critically reflect upon this issue with reference to the academic literature and regulatory standards.

Analysis of the topic - Rubric marking criteria

Includes:

  • Relevance of social media
  • understanding and critical analysis of the utilisation of social media
  • explanation of ideas
  • implications for practice
  • discussion of social media associated with transition to professional practice

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Solution:

Relevance of Social Media In Healthcare

Introduction

The application of online sites helps professionals in the healthcare field to network among themselves as well as share information with their patients. Professionals such as therapists, nurses, and pharmacists have a lot of potential of building their reputation online using social media. Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, and Twitter are examples of the social networking sites that the professionals in healthcare can improve utilization in the course of their practice. Thanks to the many benefits associated with using social media, health professionals can now personalize healthcare and collaborate to promote better healthcare and health education. However, every health provider needs to understand the risks and disadvantages of using social media sites. Social media has many benefits that every registered nurse needs to know. They should also comprehend the kind of risks to which the use of social media exposes them. The implication is that there exist advantages and disadvantages as well as risks of using social media in the nursing field as this paper discusses.

Benefits of using social media in healthcare and role of registered nurses

  • Fast medical information dissemination

The internet provides a wide-range of medical information. Some of the information is inaccurate and misleading. Patients consume information rapidly. It is the role of the registered nurses, therefore, to ensure that their patients do not fall victims of the incorrect information that the internet provides. One advantage of the use of social media among these professionals is that they give accurate information to their patients so that they do not follow the wrong advice. Healthcare organizations can also take advantage of the marketing power of social media sites and share relevant health topics concerning their patients. These can encompass issues related to allergies, chronic diseases like diabetes and blood pressure, allergies as well as risk factors and how to cope with them.

Concerning this, Ventola (2014) notes that the use of social media empowers organizations and facilities towards quick dissemination of accurate, actionable and applicable information. This information sharing helps to boost health and build an online patient roster. Existing online subscribers benefit from the new information that the professionals share. New subscribers get to choose healthcare organizations to help manage their conditions. Social media, therefore, boosts health, and the role of the registered nurses is to share these information sets. Free information sharing comes with rewards, and the health care centers benefit as well. Time does not limit the access to proper medical care. For instance, if a family member falls ill during the night, the family members do not have to wait until the following day to get medical care. Instead, they can access it online.

  • Easier accessibility of healthcare despite distance

In healthcare, the sites makes information sharing possible within a distance and speed that once seemed impossible. It opens up opportunities to prevent, diagnose as well as treat almost all diseases. It is one way of saving lives especially in situations that traditionally were life-threatening. Griffiths, Lindenmeyer, Powell, Lowe and Thorogood (2006) argue that proper engagement from the healthcare professionals, societies can prevent and treat diseases. Since location is not a hindrance to the use of social media, people living in rural areas can access health information online. Social media provides registered nurses with collaboration tools that offer quality care to individual patients who could not access any other form of medical advice. Their role is to seek for persons who need health care and whose distance affects accessibility. That the social media sites are a powerful tool for providing healthcare to everyone is evident. Facebook, for instance, has pages that the nurses can populate healthcare information to help the subscribers. Since information comes from certified registered nurse, it is always accurate and updated.

For decades, local nurses and doctors had control over every piece of medical information in a community. The onset of social media and its use in healthcare changed the scenario since it gives the public access to medical information and enables them to participate actively in two-way communication initiatives. With the use of social media, doctors benefit from networking. For instance, if a doctor meets with a patient with rare symptoms, they leverage social media, which helps them to connect with other professionals to deliberate on the same. Therefore, the use of social media is a source of networking and additional knowledge for the participating registered nurse or doctor. Registered nurses can consult other medical professionals hence giving their patients high-quality healthcare at all times.

  • Emotional, social and emotional support for peers

Apart from boosting the relationship between medical professionals and their patients, social media also builds a stronger relationship between peers, that is, the practitioners can network with other doctors. The works of Jan, Schweizer, Leimeister & Krcmar (2008) indicate that the peer support leads to positive health results. Similar, patient general health improves when they get support from their families and peers, hence emphasizing the benefits of peer support. When medical practitioners share issues, it reduces stigma and improves work-related performance. It acts as a professional development platform when professionals learn from each other. The healthcare professionals practicing in the same field also have the opportunity to connect. Therefore, social media is beneficial to them because of the networking power and sharing of knowledge.

  • Cost control mechanism  

When the nurses working in various healthcare centers dispense health information services to the public through social media, it goes beyond marketing. Once they make known their services online, the number of people willing to visit the health care center increase. It also enhances the number of individuals who wish to get services from them. Therefore, social media acts as a medium of communication and marketing at costs lower than ever. These collaboration and social media tools are also a way of monitoring the progress of individual patients. Registered nurses get to advertise their services at a low cost, which comes with other cost control mechanisms (Lau et al. 2011). They differentiate their services as low-cost medical providers of best quality healthcare using these tools. The role of the registered nurses is to ensure that they understand how to use these marketing and collaboration tools provided by social media in the most efficient ways. As such, it helps them reach the target audience quickly. Lau et al. (2011) suggests that using social media is cheaper compared to other ways of sharing information and is worth a try.

  • Social media is highly collaborative

Social media is collaborative in nature. It enables a successful mutual communication between healthcare professionals and their patients. Once registered nurses release information on social media, they can monitor feedback and any reactions from their target audience. The works of Moorhead et al. (2013) indicate that feedback is an important tool in building relationships between professionals and their patients. It enlightens the healthcare professionals on the areas that need improvement with the aim of offering high-quality healthcare for all. They can leverage the power of social media feedbacks to build the reputation, exercise thought leadership and strengthen their reputation. Healthcare providers use social media to offer ongoing support for patients and clients with specific health issues. For instance, a patient struggling with smoking needs medical help. Medical staff dealing with such a customer can create a network with others who share the issue. Once the peers discuss their experiences, they heal easily due to the positive reinforcement. A registered nurse can play the role of bringing people with similar health issues in one forum so that they all benefit from each other. It makes their goal-achieving efforts easier to accomplish. Again, social media brings different stakeholders together in a central forum. It also streamlines the process of disseminating information. Since it assists these speakers to garner online attention from large masses of people, it becomes a useful tool for mass information dissemination. There is a need for a policy that regulates the use of social sites in healthcare so that the entire society benefits fully from its use (Moorhead et al. 2013).

  • Strengthening the relationship between physician and patients

Social media makes it easier for people to communicate more frequently. Registered nurses and doctors who maintain frequent communication with their patients serve to strengthen the relationship between them. The benefit is mutual because satisfied patients refer their friends and family to these doctors and also open up on the health history (Jan, Schweizer, and Leimeister & Krcmar, 2008). Patients do not have to keep visiting the health center as they can keep communicating online with their healthcare provider hence strengthening the relationship between them. Registered nurses should ensure that they maintain friendly conversations with patients and practice privacy and confidentiality when storing and retrieving the information.

  • Availability of entertainment for health benefits

According to Lau et al. (2011), social media can entertain people and at the same time offer health benefits. Educational health games that offer patients substantial education on health. Examples are social games that educate leukemia patients on drugs and cancer. They also enhance self-efficacy for diabetes patients. Games aimed at self-management increase the ability of an individual patient to take care of themselves. Other activity games improve physical fitness. Practitioners can also post health videos online to educate people about specific and general health issues affecting an individual community (Moorhead et al. 2013).

The use of social media, as explained by Lau et al. (2011), does not mean that the patient does not meet a healthcare professional. In most cases, patients ensure that they meet a doctor for thorough examination and diagnosis. However, the follow-up occurs on social media. Similarly, patients can use these social media sites to learn more about a disease in addition to the medical advice given to them during their physical visit. Health facilities also market themselves online to attract more clients (Lau et al. 2011).

Disadvantages of using social media in healthcare and role of registered nurses

  • Privacy breach

Social media has several risks and difficulties for the healthcare professionals. One of the issues is privacy. Since social media is open and appealing, it raises the concerns, including the violation of privacy policies. According to Sarringhaus (2011), most of the professionals are not aware of the underlying policies that govern healthcare privacy. It increases the chances of them violating these policies.

  • Lack of knowledge and training on use of collaborative tools

The rapid pace of social media intimidates most professionals. The lack of professional guidance that could help the health practitioners on how to navigate the connections on networks such as Twitter and Facebook affects their ability to use them. Sarringhaus (2011) adds that the social sites to lack useful guidelines on how to navigate through pages and other tools.

  • Patient information limits

It is not easy for practitioners to offer medical information online because they lack patient history. In most cases, the patients are hesitant in sharing their health history online for trust reasons. Again, online diagnosis is not as efficient as a physical one because the practitioner gets the chance to feel their pulse, breathing and checking the eyes. It implies that there is a possibility for incorrect or incomplete diagnosis when done entirely through social media. Storey (2013) believes that the implication is that the provision of healthcare through social media has limitations to proper diagnosis.  Patients fear that their nurses and doctors might not hold their information with confidentiality and privacy and some might hold back valuable information.

  • Stigma and lack of understanding of the benefits

The number of physicians and registered nurses who choose to participate in social media keeps increasing. Some professionals question the practice as they wonder why doctors and nurses should be busy navigating social media. The stigma reduces the wide-spread use of social media because it kills the motivation of participating practitioners.

Conclusion

Most of the medical professionals rely on social media to offer various health care services to the public. The wide-spread use of online platforms in healthcare has its pros and cons. Every registered nurse should evaluate the benefits and drawbacks before using social media on a particular patient or illness, for example. One of the advantages is that social media offers a medium for fast information dissemination. Practitioners ensure that patients and clients have the right medical information as compared to the misleading pool of information on the internet. People can access medical attention with ease because distance and location are no longer a limitation. Social media allows peers, such as practitioners or patients, to support each other. Health organizations that invest in social media sites enjoy cost savings because of its collaborative nature. Social media offers a wide array of benefits for the practitioners who use it efficiently. Social media in healthcare practice has its disadvantages. For instance, it is easy for registered nurses to breach privacy policies without their knowledge. The sites do not offer any form of training and practitioners can time learning its practical use. There is also a limitation of information available online about a patient. Sometimes patients do not want to disclose their health history. Stigma affects the use of social media as well. Therefore, before investing on social media, practitioners should understand the benefits and disadvantages that they are likely to encounter.

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