Social Media and mHealth: Destinated to Be Together

I recently read a “White Paper ” prepared by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society ( HIMSS ) about Social Media in the health sector.

While I was reading, I kept thinking how interconnected everything is in this new digital reality.

The truth is that the connection is there by default, we, the users, are the ones who decide how and when to interconnect.

Healthcare organizations, hospitals, primary care centers, diagnostic centers, etc. . . are entering this new reality slowly .

These organizations are beginning to understand the potential of Social Media and how they can be more connected with their users, because they can share useful information for patients to be more autonomous in managing their health care needs, especially for those suffering from chronic disease.

This “White Paper ” explains numerous examples that have made me think about the true size and capacity that exists behind this concept “Social Media”. Three in particular attracted my attention:


  1. Scott & White Hospital (Temple, TX) The role played by this hospital with its presence in social media after the shooting that occurred onNov. 5 at Fort Hood, Texas in which 13 people died. That day all phone lines had collapsed, and the hospital was able to keep the community informed and convey how they were monitoring the situation, asking for blood donors, etc…Through their Twitter account.
  2. Dr. Bryan Vartabedian (@ Doctor_V) Professor of Pediatrics at Baylor University in Houston, and physician at Texas Children’s Hospital, has been writing in his blog since 2006. This blog has become very famous in part by talking about how to use and leverage Social Media in healthcare. One of the post and most significant reference is titled: “When Patients Contact You via Social Media” .
  3. Highlight on the philosophy of the Mayo Clinic in relation to Social Media which states:

” The Mayo Clinic believes that people have the right and responsibility to advocate for their own health, and it is our responsibility to help them use social media tools to get the best information, connect with providers and each other, and inspire healthy choices. We intend to lead the community health care in applying these revolutionary tools to spread knowledge and encourage collaboration among providers and improving health care quality everywhere “

In the same way, a few days ago, I read in the Blog of “The e- Health we want”, a post about precisely this issue. It is worth reading to get an idea of what the situation is here in Spain.

Social media communication concept

Javi, the author, explains how some hospitals are already using Social Media, and in what ways it can add value to healthcare organizations .

But I’d like to project a little further into the future, and while Social Media can help us spread information about services closer to users, offering quality health information, etc … By the time the interconnection with # mHealth becomes real, we will discover  a new dimension.

It will be necessary to define very clearly the security and limits beyond information for users – what is public vs. what is private. Information that our users choose to share with us regarding their health, as opposed to their pathologies related indicators, with their levels of, for example blood glucose, blood pressure or …

When this happens, health centers should be prepared to manage all that information, to manage two types of relations with users:

  1. The merely informative, and channeled through Social Media,
  2. Or the personal, individual , confidential, etc … related to a user and their health, which can lead to clinical decision followed actions to improve , preserve or urgently assist those in need .

From my point of view we have a phenomenon of great potential but slow onset, as hospitals become more involved in the relationship with their users, beyond the face to face relationship with doctors that occurs in hospital facilities.

This establishment may occur in two different but interconnected ways.

SocialMedia and mHealth Fusion

  1. On the one hand, health centers may chose to develop their digital strategy (some are already doing, such as the Mayo Clinic and its mission statement regarding Social Media).
  2. While on the other hand, for other centers, the most natural way is to develop its care relationship implementing and relying on the #mHealth, to be more in touch with those patients with more chronic profile that can add value by using new mobile technologies.

When these two pathways relationship with users are combined, new synergies will be discovered and surely will add value to both, patients and the centers. And a new dynamic of higher quality care, closer monitoring between centers and users, and ultimately greater satisfaction will become truth.

However we must not forget that this change will surely impact directly in the daily work of professionals and its dynamics. About this impact I’d like to write in a future post in my Meaningful Health Blog.


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