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Social Media: Enhancing Medical Outreach and Quality of Healthcare

Submitted by on September 11, 2013 – 6:56 PM

tumblr_mjb2l53mJh1qzs4rbo1_1280In this era of digital science and globalization, medical profession seems to be a charm for many people. Throughout the world, each year, many students appear for this noble profession with the dream to explore something new with their keen interest in humanity or to flourish in education. The world is moving so fast with new discoveries, inventions and growth in technologies which connect each and every individual in a manner without which life seems to be impossible. In the same way, the top most preferred profession of this world, the Medical Profession is indulging more in connecting with the digital world through different communication media.

Social Media is a Platform that involves internet based activities through which individuals get and share knowledge, communicate and collaborate. It is totally different from other broadcast media because social media is online way through which people discuss, communicate research, earn and discover new things individually or in collaboration. In this age of rapidly growing technologies, different professions use blogging, personal websites like twitter, Facebook, wiki, slides share and videos share sites, collaborative projects, research tools and contents, online communities, photo sharing sites and educational information sharing and news sites. According to “Facebook statistics, 9th September 2011”, Published in white paper 2012; Facebook emerged as largest social media network in use worldwide and represents the enormous growth of social media usage among the general public, Facebook allows internet users to interact with community pages, events and personal post.

Social Media presents several opportunities in positive or negative way to medical community, so that physicians, medical students, patients, nurses, health organizations and their representatives seize those opportunities and improve health literacy, issues and quality of life. Social media is a dynamic way through which people can raise health awareness about issues, can communicate, discuss to improve health related activities and behavior. This is also a powerful way to provide better quality of life. According to one survey, over sixty five percent physicians in the world are using social media, and in U.S. more than thousand hospitals are using social media and several organizations are taking part in it for different purposes. Different Health organization in public and private sector using social media like, ‘Mayo Clinic social media’ was created in January to educate health care professionals, and public health agencies like World Health Organization (WHO) are reshaping medical world with great advancement.

Throughout the world Physicians, Surgeons, Medical students and Nurses all are using different blogging sites and social networking communities to enhance and seize opportunities and to tackle all the challenges which come on their way of professionalism. Dr.Lissa Rankin, a gynecologist in San Diego said in her interview that: “I was trained that doctors are supposed to be up on this pedestal and we’re supposed to put on our white coats and play this role. That’s not necessary who we are. We’re humans. I personally use social media as a way to communicate to people my humanity, that I have flaws, that I make mistakes, that I have doubts, insecurities and fears”.

Social Media is playing its role for medical community through different categories like students, doctors, nurses and different industries are using several blogging sites, social networking communities, Facebook, flickers, twitter, slides share, videos share, YouTube, online journals, e-books, online researches and last but not the least different video courses and lectures provided by health care teachers in several ways. But matter of concern is that, social media can have negative impact and can harm medical profession, personal dignity, identity, employment, patient’s integrity, self respect, can demoralize individuals life and can disturb relationships, future admission, careers and opportunities, if people have inappropriate online activities and social behaviors. It can affect patient’s morale, self respect, privacy and their beliefs.

One survey shows that social networking sites are affecting medical school acceptance, in U.S. Social network activities and profiles are negatively affecting doctor’s reputation, personal integrity, public trust and their careers and can destroy their fame and employment. In twitter accounts, doctors using and sharing medical information and patient’s problems can be fruitful but they are against ethics and destroy personal dignity and morale by crossing boundaries. In a nutshell, in spite of negative influence of Social Media individually or collectively, it is playing a powerful role in medical community by reshaping the ways of thinking, ways of living, ways to receive and share, and the ways to explore and generate better health. By providing routes to overcome challenges and grab new opportunities it can create better relations that enable persons individually and professionally to grow and live in a ‘healthy literate world’.


1. White Paper 2010:

2. BMJ 2013:

3. A guide to online professionalism for medical practioners and medical students:

5. Interviews:how social media is changing the medical field:

About the Author: Amsa Khan is a 3rd year MBBS student at Sindh Medical College, Pakistan. She can be reached at [email protected]

About this article: This article is competing for the JPMS International Medical Writing Contest 2013

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