5 Key Takeaways on Guiding Patients to Credible Online Health Information and Engagement Resources

In a recent article published in the Clinical Diabetes Journal, SurroundHealth community leader, Susan Collins, MS, RD, CHES, along with Dana M. Lewis, leader of the #hcsm (health care communications and social media) hashtag,  discussed connecting patients to online health information and engagement resources to facilitate more appropriate use of health care resources. Access to these resources may lead to more patient-centered decision making and reduced barriers to treatment adherence.

We are sharing what we feel are 5 of the key takeaways from the article, entitled, “Social Media Made Easy: Guiding Patients to Credible Online Health Information and Engagement Resources.”

1.       There’s an important difference between online health information resources and online health engagement resources. While both are important to help guide patients, online health information resources focus on delivering information to the patient, while online health engagement resources promote the SHARING of information, as well as supports INTERACTION among patients.

 2.       Engagement resources allow active, 2-way sharing of information. Social networking tools and platforms such as blogs, Twitter, and Facebook, provide spaces for patients to share real-life challenges of living with a particular disease or condition, where in turn, HCPs or peers can offer support, advice, coaching, and resources.

 3.       A combination of health information resources and engagement resources can be a beneficial integration into patients’ overall health care experience. This coupling can provide informal learning and support that can serve as a complement to more formal learning and education that patients receive from their HCPs. In addition, HCPs can gain a better perspective on how their patients are learning and engaging with resources (as well as be aware of patient challenges and struggles shared).

 4.       Overcome privacy concerns regarding social media use by HCPs. According to the American Medical Association (AMA), the reading of patient-shared content by HCPs online does NOT violate HIPPA. However, it is a violation to comment in a public setting to an individual without signed consent. Visit the AMA for more information on these regulations.

 5.       Helping patients access online resources does not have to be time-consuming. Many HCPs wonder where they will find the time to engage and search for resources online. It’s important to note that professionals do not need to be active on ALL social media platforms and tools. The full article reviews different steps to take a time-saving approach to online interactions.

The full article is available:  http://clinical.diabetesjournals.org/content/31/3/137.full.pdf+html

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