Social Media-the Catalyst to Proactively Managing Our Own Health
April 1, 2014
We can’t turn on the television or listen to the radio without hearing advertisements or commentary on health care whether it be insurance or chronic conditions. Our country is suffering from sky-rocketing costs and poor overall individual health management, in spite of unprecedented access to information and new technology applications being developed daily to support personal and professional healthcare management. So what will be the catalyst to drive us as individuals to take a more proactive approach to managing our own health? In my humble opinion, it won’t be the government, employers, or technology applications like Apple’s Healthbook. The spread of the Internet and the power of social media to inform, connect, support and promote the benefits will be the catalyst to the widespread adoption of proactively managing our own health.
An effective self-management health program includes four components:
- Skills to translate knowledge into effective and preventative practices
- Strong sense of self worth to support control when difficulty arises
- Social support for desired change
Knowledge is readily available in all forms from paper to digital to face-to-face communications with healthcare professionals and employer-sponsored programs. Check out our white paper with social media tips for healthcare professionals. A simple Google search for healthcare information shows over 700 million results in less than a second.
Skills to translate this knowledge into practice are supported by the ever increasing adoption of social media by healthcare professionals, including physicians and hospitals. Director of the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media, Lee Aase has been a longtime advocate for social media adoption in healthcare. He’s also co-authored a book called Bringing the Social Media #Revolution to Health Care, which contains short essays by 29 social media leaders in healthcare. Just follow the hashtags #HCSM and #HCLDR to get an understanding of the growing amount of very smart people anxious and actively working to educate, share, and support you.
The exploding growth of the $1.5 billion wearables industry such as the Jawbone, Nike Fuel Band, or G Watch and smart phone healthcare applications give us a way to collect, store and share our personal health information. While there is yet to be one solution to connect all of the dots, each of the devices and applications help us personally understand critical components to our health.
Apple’s Healthbook, as described in the many blogs including Forbes and 9to5Mac, is yet another step forward to enable us and build the confidence we need to influence our behavior. Kimberly George, Senior Vice President, Senior Healthcare Advisor at Sedgwick adds, “While social media is abuzz with opinions regarding Apple’s healthbook – I firmly believe if a health innovation tool engages a consumer to make meaningful health decisions then it is a success.”
So if we have access to the knowledge and the technology and skills to use it – what is going to escalate the adoption and convince the masses to proactively manage their health. It’s social media – social media is going to be the drop of honey that sticks to your counter and initially attracts a few ants, then more, and more until finally there are so many ants engaged the counter has become their new home.
Social networks will continue to drive profound change and be the catalyst to make proactively managing our own health as normal as getting our mail. We will receive knowledge, direction, confidence and support through social communications. Most of us reading this article already do. If Pew Research Center is right and theInternet will become like electricity, deeply embedded in our lives, then access is not an issue. All we need now is a little more honey, aka, social media adoption.