As the number of social media users, platforms and networks continues to grow, those looking for places to learn and share about their health concerns are finding a bit of a conundrum in terms of where to look and what to trust.
Patients are finding information in a whole variety of places. Indeed, some enterprising patients have developed and launched online communities exclusive to their own conditions. And there are websites created by entrepreneurs with terabytes of educational materials written by people unknown to the person reading it. Increasingly patients look to the health provider for assistance and guidance. Particularly now they are looking to continue the provider/patient conversation from the exam room to the living room. The big issue here is that most of these connections are via non-secure and public social media channels where the last thing people/patients should be doing is sharing highly personal health information.
In fact, The San Francisco Chronicle reported on June 21, 2012 in an article titled “Social media in health care create risks, benefits,” that some healthcare providers have been utilizing social media channels to discuss their patients’ health issues with dangerous results. “A lot of stuff is people sharing too much information that should either be left confidential, or in some cases information that shouldn’t be shared because it’s not true,” Ryan Greysen, assistant clinical professor of medicine at the University of California in San Francisco told the Chronicle.
WellFX looks to answer many of these issues with a private and secure social platform that is led by providers and features the added and crucial benefit of connecting patients with patients in order to inform and inspire. Because providers lead their patients into WellFX, they are able to help them maintain and engage in the care plan already outlined. At the same time, patients continue to feel connected to their providers and trust the information they are reading, hearing or watching, because it comes from a trusted source.
So, to the question of who should lead, we believe the best answer is both, provided that privacy, security and trust are the basis for the service.