Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Power of Social Media to do good #1 Health

I define good as those things that help people. Health, a better life, a job, happiness, success, these are all areas that social media has been proven to have a major effect.
Over the next series of posts I will take a look at these areas in turn and provide examples of how social media is having a game-changing dynamite-type impact.


Social media is having a real impact on healthcare in practical ways, not just by providing information, which is a good thing, and has generally positive effects, but in truly impactful ways too.
One example of this is how people requiring kidney transplants are finding kidney donors in the United States and elsewhere through social media. Professor Jerry Wilde of Indiana University is one person who has benefited from this. Jerry had a particularly difficult case. A previously donated kidney had grown a large tumour. He needed a new one.
The normal waiting list is three to five years for a new kidney. Jerry couldn’t wait that long. A friend of his started a Facebook page. Through the page they found someone willing to donate a suitable kidney.
And don’t get the idea that this is a unique case. Tom Brady, a quarterback, used the power of social media to get 10,000 people to sign up for, a web site that matches patients in need of organs with potential donors. This was reported in the Baltimore Sun.
There are many more examples of surprising ways that social media has helped people improve their health. Here are some examples of how people use social media for personal health purposes now:
1.    You can get support for your personal health goals through putting those goals out for all to see. By using social media sites to help you remember, you will keep on track and be reminded of the shame you will feel if you don’t stick to your goals.
2.   You can use Twitter hashtags, such as #weightloss, to record and track your weightloss activity. There are apps and programs that will remind you about your weight loss goals as well and plug you into communities of people who have similar goals.
3. You can get better, more up to date, health information through social media. and are just two examples of Facebook groups that provide real assistance to sufferers and their families. You can also use YouTube and other social channels to research techniques, success stories and how-to information.
Other examples of using social media for healthcare are:
1.  Getting mobile messages when you need to take your medication, via a timed social media posting service.
2.  Finding good doctors, seeing what else is available and getting feedback on medical issues from social media contacts.
3.  Keeping better medical records, all in the cloud, and telling professionals where and how they can access your records.
This list is far from exhaustive. Social media will impact every aspect of healthcare in the future. We are moving into a very different world. This future for healthcare wasn’t even imagined twenty years ago.  
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