Custom «Social Media in Healthcare Informatics» Essay Paper Sample

Social Media in Healthcare Informatics

The healthcare industry has experienced significant changes due to a rapid increase in the internet access, social media growth, and affordable mobile telecommunications. As a result, the sector and consumers of health services reap many benefits from technological inventions. This paper is a discussion of social media in health informatics, various strengths and benefits that improve relationships between patients and professionals, challenges and weaknesses that cause slow adoption, concerns relating to C-suite in healthcare, as well as how social media complement the PHRs and the mHealth in order to improve healthcare delivery in hospital settings to patients.

Background Information

Social media mean internet tools and platforms that allow people to gather data, communicate with others, access information, as well as share multimedia messages and files. There exists a wide variety of social media tools that can be used to facilitate healthcare education and professional networking, patient services delivery, healthcare education, and organizational promotion. Platforms include social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Skype, LinkedIn, blogs, media sharing sites, gaming, and virtual reality sites. They provide features that enable patients and healthcare professionals to communicate by means of video calls, images, and sharing of health information. A significant percentage of the global population, i.e. over 72% of adults, has embraced tools to improve the healthcare industry and provide individual benefits (Pentescu, Cetina, & Orzan, 2015). Social networking platforms and social media tools have increased the rate of health awareness among patients without the need to visit health centers for consultation.

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Social Media Strengths in Health Informatics

Virtual Reality and Video Gaming

It is crucial to understand strengths of using social media to engage patients. Virtual reality platforms and video contacts like Skype, which is one of popular social media tools, provide a video calling feature that enables healthcare professionals to engage with patients virtually (Nelson & Staggers, 2017). A patient can consult a physician during a video call and, at the same time, receive medical advice in return. Besides, doctors use Multi-User Virtual Environments (MUVEs), which are three-dimensional platforms where users present themselves virtually (avatar) to communicate (Ventola, 2014). They are used by healthcare professionals for healthcare delivery education such as psychotherapy, epidemiology simulations, surgery, mass prophylaxis, and research. One of the most widely used general purpose environments is the Second Life that is used for educating patients. There are also health specific MUVEs designed for guiding patients’ medication and for assisting physicians for surgery purposes. Virtual Reality platforms and video gaming tools are useful for the education of patients and professionals to support healthcare delivery.

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Social Media in Health Education

Besides, social media have platforms that are used to provide health education to concerned patients. Twitter accounts and blogs are used to share health educational information with the public and other professionals. Moreover, they post videos and participate in online discussion forums to discuss disease-specific issues and complex topics. Social media also encourage patient-to-provider communication, patient-to-patient communication, and provider-to provider interaction. For instance, patients can access credible information about pregnancy and chronic illnesses such as diabetes, cancer, Urinary Tract Infections, and obesity (Nelson & Staggers, 2017). Microblogs are also used by users to post messages and hyperlinks to websites for patients to seek healthcare information. Besides, Wikis and Facebook messaging are used by physicians to engage patients and follow up on their health status after intake of medications. This ensures confidentiality of people who would not like to be known depending on problems they experience. Engagement of patients and professionals through social media can help promote healthcare delivery and care about patients in the society.

 
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Social Media Challenges in Health Informatics

Despite the advantages of using social media in healthcare informatics, technology faces various challenges. One of the limitations is the maintenance of privacy and confidentiality of social media users’ information (Nelson & Staggers, 2017). Social media, unlike traditional methods, make it difficult to control sharing of and access to personal information. Although some of the platforms provide security setting options to control privacy, some users have little or no knowledge about privileges and their functionality. Another challenge is the quality of information that is provided on social media platforms such as micro-blogs (Nelson & Staggers, 2017). It is hard to assure credibility of information and professional qualifications of users who pose themselves as professionals. Other challenges include legal and user educational problems that limit success of social media in promoting health.

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Slow Adoption of Social Media by Professionals

Given several limitations of social media in health informatics, many professionals have been slow in adopting the technology. One of the causes of the trend is the increased malpractice on social media sites. There has been a rise in misconducts, which include the spread of false information and exposure of patients’ and professionals’ personal information. Besides, some professionals engage in unwanted discussions about sex and race and such behavior attracts legal attention and destroys people’s reputation (Nelson & Staggers, 2017). Healthcare providers decline to provide medical assistance through social media before physically examining a patient and conducting required tests. Misconducts and security issues in the technology have to be addressed to encourage professionals to embrace social media to deliver health services.

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Social Media and the C-Suite in Health Informatics

Advantages of social media, challenges, and disadvantages in the health sector with respect to the C-Suite of the industry raise some questions that need to be answered before embracing the technology for healthcare promotion. The questions include the ones like what costs and benefits of using social media are to patients, the public, and professionals; what information is shared or accessed through social media; what legal and ethical concerns arise as a result of the social media use; and how they ensure that information on social media is reliable and credible. Answering these questions will enable providers to determine the extent at which the platform should be adopted and utilized.

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Use of Social Media, PHRs, and mHealth in Hospital Settings

Social media, Personal Health Records (PHRs), and mHealth improve relationships between patients and their healthcare providers. It improves the physicians’ knowledge of their patients’ health history and health status. For instance, PHRs enable maintenance of clients’ health history for easier diagnostics and prescription of medications (Nelson & Staggers, 2017). Besides, social media and mHealth increase reliability and trust between patients and their healthcare providers. One of the advantages of social media, PHRs, and mHealth is that they play a critical role in enhancing patient-centric care. Patients are directly involved in their treatment and personal health (Nelson & Staggers, 2017). Physicians also conduct follow-up activities on their patients through mHealth services and social media depending on records and history in PHRs.

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Social Media, PHRs, and mHealth in Nursing

The use of social media, PHRs, and mHealth in nursing is governed by policies to ensure that they abide by the law and the code of ethics. The law on privacy and confidentiality is one of policies that guide nurses in the use of social media, mHealth, and PHRs (Ventola, 2014). Patient information should be kept private and confidential from the third parties. Patient’s health records for PHR should not be found online. Besides, the policy requires that patients can access their health records through mobile platforms. The HIPAA Rules prohibit posting of ER waiting rooms and domestic violence-related pictures to protect victims. The policy and HIPAA rules are effective in guiding nursing practitioners on the right conduct and behavior on social media (Ventola, 2014). It has also increases trust of patients, while providing their information to professionals. Social media, PHR, and mHealth policy and the HIPAA rules have successfully improved relationships between patients and professionals on social media.

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Conclusion

The healthcare sector has achieved significant milestones through the invention of social media. Social media platforms used in health informatics include social networking sites, microblogs, wikis, and mHealth platforms. The platforms aid in patients’ education, medication prescription, diagnostics, and interaction with professionals. They are also used for research purposes, consultations, and patient-centered care. However, social media usage is exposed to challenges such as information security and misconduct by users. Problems lead to the slow adoption of social media by healthcare professionals. Given the growth of social media, the confidentiality and ethics policy should be used to guide its usage by nursing professionals.

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