Social Media Patient Support

Healthcare Market Watchers : Social Media ‘Not all Bad’

CommuniD, the medical device marketing company, today announced that social media is having an overwhelmingly positive effect on sufferers and patients in rehabilitation.

Despite numerous headlines about the destructive effect of social media, particularly on young people, there are many positive examples of the good it is doing for peer support between individuals and their families and friends facing similar pathologies or mental health problems.

CommuniD has been tracking several of these groups and has observed several common benefits:
• The ‘e-patients’ are highly knowledgeable with experience of conditions themselves
• The participants can help manage others’ expectations
• There are no borders such as location, and even language is assisted with in-built translation
• They can help healthcare professionals launch research initiatives and create care guidelines
• Although these groups are not moderated by healthcare specialists, each piece of content is reviewed by the rest of the users in the community. This is self-regulating while providing greater freedom of speech and transparency.

Commenting on the observations, Elvio Gramignano, MD of CommuniD said: “Many of these social media-based peer support groups have sprung up organically, previously they would have inhabited bulletin boards and forums, but now it’s social media, where so many people spend so much time.”

“From a wider perspective, social media is a powerful tool to improve health literacy and support patients in having a better understanding of health conditions. Furthermore, it provides an environment that is not constrained by the point of view of one healthcare company or an individual surgeon. The variety is huge, from the major conditions to extremely rare procedures and illnesses.”

Users can find groups to suit them, there are dozens of active Breast Cancer support groups with members ranging from tens of thousands to a few hundred. And it’s not just medical conditions that are supported, those experiencing a particular treatment or procedure are benefitting.

One such example is the Osseointegration Peer Support Group on Facebook currently supporting 3200 patients and their families following the procedure. Prof. Munjed Al Muderis, the leading osseointegration surgeon says: “Osseointegration is an extreme procedure that can have complications and requires patient´s motivation and continuous work to be successful. Having a place where patients and families in Australia can speak with patients and families in the US and Europe means they have access to the widest possible range of experiences and advice in this particular area.”

From Acne to Zika Virus in Australia to Zambia, support is at hand on social media, and that’s not at all bad.