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Social media and health care

Social media and health care

By Chris Strub

Social media is changing the face of customer behavior - and we're not just talking about Tweeting about Black Friday deals.

From a health care perspective, the nature and speed of interactions between organizations and individuals is drastically changing - whether providers are ready for it or not. According to Mediabistro, more than 40% of consumers say that information found on social media affects the way they deal with their health - and the burden is shifting to providers to determine how to best provide such information.

Some local providers are taking a proactive approach to social media. On Oct. 8 - two days after the Wineglass Marathon in Corning - Arnot Health (@ArnotHealth) tweeted a link to a blog post by Dr. Beth Dollinger with helpful tips for foot pain and foot injuries.

"Our feet can tell us a lot about other problems in the body, like diabetes, blood clots, or nerve irritation," she wrote. For sore marathon runners, finding this information from an authoritative local source can make a big difference.

Fidelis Care (@FidelisCare) is also helping lead the charge on Twitter. Throughout November, the company consistently shared links and videos about #DiabetesMonth. Recent tweets also included articles about treating the #flu, how to choose a #pediatrician and identifying #tuberculosis.

"Your doctor will determine whether you have diabetes based on a blood test known as the ‘glucose tolerance test,'" according to Fidelis Care. "This is a series of blood tests that will monitor how your body responds to the intake of a particular sugar."

Fidelis Care and Arnot Health are the exception to the rule: only 31% of health care organizations have specific social media guidelines. But as patients depend even more on social media for health care advice, having a strategic plan in place will only become increasingly crucial.