In the next few editions of “Tech Talk,” I will discuss how social media affects health care. One of the areas we’ll explore is how physicians use social media, along with its various advantages and disadvantages. But, before I do that, I thought it would be most appropriate to assess how our patients are using different types of social media.
Explore this issue:October 2012
A Game Changer
“Social media” is ill-defined, and its definition is certainly evolving. In general, social media may include forums, blogs, podcasts and social bookmarking. According to a 2010 article published in Business Horizons by Andreas Kaplan and Michael Haenlein, professors of marketing at business school ESCP Europe in Paris, there are six different types of social media:
- collaborative projects (e.g., Wikipedia);
- blogs and microblogs (e.g., Twitter);
- content communities (e.g., YouTube);
- social networking sites (e.g., Facebook);
- virtual game worlds (e.g., World of Warcraft); and
- virtual social worlds (e.g., Second Life).
Not surprisingly, men older than 65 are the least likely to participate in health care-related social media. Predictably, Generation X (34 to 45 year olds)—particularly the women in this group—are most likely to use the Internet to find information and to look for other people with similar health-related problems. Patients and families with rare disorders are much more likely to search online for others with similar problems. These patients frequently have a difficult time finding competent health care providers, and virtual social networks provide viable resources for information and identification of knowledgeable physicians.