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Leveraging the Power of Social Media to Engage Patients and Achieve Treatment Outcomes
Lawson Health Research Institute, Aging Rehabilitation and Geriatric Care Research Centre, Western University Faculty of Health Sciences, London, Ontario, Canada
Care for chronic conditions and noncommunicable diseases is dominating health systems around the globe. And while it is commonly described in the literature that care for chronic conditions requires the patient to adhere to prescribed lifestyle and behavioral modifications, patient engagement with these prescribed health behaviors remains a challenge. The commercial landscape has realized the potential of social media for engaging consumers, yet the health landscape has been slow to use this potential for engaging patients. This article describes social media, categorizing it into five types: blogs, content communities, collaborative projects, social networking sites, and virtual worlds. Despite the current lack of evidence supporting the implementation of social media in health research and health services, examples of how social media could be leveraged in the health landscape are presented. This conceptual article does not suggest that health service delivery move to a virtual setting. Instead, it is suggested that involving social media in health service delivery could help to augment patient care and perhaps increase patient adoption of and engagement in prescribed health behaviors.
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