This 28-page report looks at how social media technologies can be harnessed to help people manage their risk factors for chronic conditions. Because of the well-publicized obesity epidemic in the United States (and around the industrialized world) the use of social media has the potential to save the healthcare system huge amounts.
This report is broken down into these major sections:
- What is social media: discusses the channels themselves, probably not important for readers of the Klick Wire but important for members of congress.
- Improving access to education and information: shows how social media can help spread the word about important information and educational resources relating to health.
- Behavioral change: shows how social technologies can help individuals remain engaged and feel a sense of accomplishment on their journey. For a personal example, see our blog post “Health tracking: a personal story.“
- Evaluation of social media: talks about how difficult it is to show the positive effects of social media directly.
The report also touches on mobile and how these technologies are improving the access to social content:
“Social media is changing the paradigm of health communication and smartphones are only making it easier to put information directly in the hands of underserved populations that otherwise may not have internet access in rural or low-income areas.” – Alice Patty, National Association of Chronic Disease Directors (NACDD)
There are a number of examples highlighted in the report:
- Inova Health System: “a lot of people out in the community are not really interested in health-related messages, but if their friends are commenting about something, then they may participate in the conversation.”
- LIVESTRONG Foundation: “People with chronic disease are becoming more and more accustomed to locating relevant health information from interactive web platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.”
- MyHealthTeams: “women are building real friendships and contributing very practical, helpful resources for other users, such as crowd-sourced answers, advice, and real-life stories about how to face breast cancer.”
- University of Maryland Medical System: The nurse practitioner monitors the group, kicks off discussion topics, and answers questions about medical issues to ensure that the patients are receiving accurate information.
- Oak Park Behavioral Health: “Half the time people don’t even know what it’s like to come see a therapist and that may be a barrier to their treatment.”
- PatientsLikeMe: also operates as a validation tool for patient-centered clinical research that ultimately may better serve the population.
- Fitocracy: “The attraction of reaching new levels eventually fades over time – but what keeps people engaged is connecting with the community and forming bonds with other users.”
- UnitedHealth Personal Rewards: a successful pilot program that leveraged social media channels (including Facebook, Twitter, and online community groups) to encourage participants to check their biometrics and help them better understand and manage risk-factors for chronic disease.
- Big White Wall: “reducing stigma is one of the keys to tackling common mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety and stress. One of the issues with mental health is that people find it difficult to talk about. At Big White Wall we tackle this through anonymity.”
- Treatment Diaries: Demographically, women tend to participate in online support groups and blog about health at higher rates than men. However, Treatment Diaries’ focus on privacy has helped more men share on the site.
- OKC Million Campaign: In January 2012, the city reached its goal of losing one million pounds and running more than one million miles.
Source: eHealth Initiative