Having your regular, yearly exam over Facebook isn’t a future too far off. An interconnected world is becoming increasingly useful to both professionals and patients. Today, social media is more than just liking pictures of your grandma’s dogs; it is helping rural patients receive diagnoses, helping them take their medication correctly, and moving outdated medical centers into the 21st century. On the other hand, digitizing patient records also carries hidden dangers.
There’s a future in a socially driven medical world. Where innovation take us this year depends on how fast people want to move forward, and how fast people can be trained to reduce information loss.
Telemedicine has been around for a long time, it’s broken through the confines of the telephone, moved onto Wi-Fi, and allowed doctors to talk with patients, answer their questions, and even recommend their next moves. There’s even a free app where you can just ask doctors questions. Moving telemedicine forward helps patients avoid needless hospital visits, gives doctors access to rural patients who are chronically underserved, and helps reduce cost, which is very important in American medical care. This would be especially effective if telemedicine moved away from phone calls and specific apps, and onto mainstream social media since people still use apps, but not many apps, and not with any frequency.
Taking Medication Incorrectly
Incorrectly taking medication is a big problem in America. 75 percent of Americans have trouble taking their medication as directed; that’s a huge amount of people who are not taking what they need to get better in a way that will make them better. Having an outlet on social media, or on an app where patients can confirm their medical information, will help them take prescriptions correctly, especially with reminders that pop up, or if it could alert the user to warn about medications that should not be mixed. This is especially helpful for people who don’t want to wait for a pharmacist to be free in order to get drug information.
Upgrades to Systems
Upgrades to online medical sites can help clients pay their bills, get an appointment, or help staff retrieve records faster. Using social media to make upgrades to a medical site could be life-saving; not only does social media allow you to directly relate to your followers, but it can help you specialize onsite to regional needs. This is huge in a global market, where some areas may not be able to run a larger website or might need a slightly different focus in order to clearly navigate.
You can even individualize web pages based on different accessibility needs. For example, that colorblindness page probably shouldn’t be full of red and green, and a page for the deaf could offer audio alternatives. Getting that feedback, in real time, from your users, is one of the benefits of upgrading a medical site from real-time social media feedback. If users have different needs, live with different internet speeds, or speak different languages, social media feedback is invaluable.
With a growing communication network also comes the need for increased information security and digital backups.
Even with backups, about a third of users will lose some of their data through an error with backup methods, meaning that data recovery tools and software are very important — especially when in the medical field. If your primary records are kept online, be sure to have a backup on the cloud and a reliable data recovery tool/resource available if that information goes down; medical records are private, so your recovery resource should be prepared beforehand and discrete. Nothing could be worse than getting a client’s records, losing them, and accidentally giving them medication they are allergic to.
Information security vulnerabilities are a huge liability in digital records, whether you’re talking to patients on social media or just digitizing records. There’s a ton of ways to make your online records safer, not just on social media, but in general. Encrypt files when you send them, verify identity before you send records, keep your servers safe, and ensure human errors stay at a minimum (most data attrition is from human error).
There are a few things you can do to reduce human error in your digital world. This is key in the medical industry where human error could cause someone to accidentally leak medical records, violate HIPAA regulations, and potentially lose their job — all because a hacker now knows that Mr. Johnson is allergic to mushrooms. There’s a variety of ways to train human error out of the system and discourage it from happening. For example, this could include standard practices like keeping private cell phones out of main server rooms, because cell phones are an easy security target. They could instead be tucked away in cell phone lockers. You can also train your employees to not download sketchy links in their email, use strong passwords, and let them know where and when they can use the internet for personal time. Nurses looking at Facebook on their lunch break? Not a big deal. Doctors answering questions while logged into the hospital account on a personal device? Kind of a big security risk.
Social media is great. It can help our medical community move forward by addressing more patient needs, help patients take their medications, and provide live feedback on how patients and doctors are reacting to the digitization. With digital upgrades comes more security risks. Social media can help patients and doctors alike, but it is essential to not let innovation endanger patient records.
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