Proactive health management vs reactive health management: social networks to bring their contribution

How many times have you been to the doctor just for a general checkup? What do you do every day to take care of your health and prevent diseases? Are you aware of the genetic health risks that run in your family? Take a few moments to answer to these questions. Most of the people would agree that going to the doctor is not something they would do for no reason. Generally speaking, we are rather reactive when it comes to our own health. We tend to go to the doctor when there is a medical problem or emergency.

Most of the people would agree that social media changed the way they look for information, communicate with each other and engage in relationships. Many of you have probably enjoyed the benefits of using Linkedin for finding professionals or jobs, Facebook and Twitter for friends or business, some of you might have even used Meetic or Match for your love life. So how about using a professional social network for your health life? A place where medical professionals can become more visible, share their knowledge, educate, engage in trustful relationships and support patients to manage their conditions.

Patients want to find out more about different conditions and be more connected with their doctor. They wish to feel safe in case there is a problem, be informed and more attentive when they deal with a disease. This can help them manage better their existing conditions or prevent new ones. On the other hand, communication with the patients is starting slowly. Health specialized social networks, such as iValueHealth.NET in Europe, Patientslikeme or iTriageHealth in the US are making a difference by providing additional channels. iValueHealth.NET is having hundreds of thousands of visitors every week by offering access to information, services and allowing interaction with medical professionals.

Most recent data shows that the medical community seems to have excelled so far in showing openness towards using social media, particularly Twitter. One study from 2012 showed that doctors in the US generated 400,000 tweets over a 5-month period. In a more recent study, Creation Pinpoint reveals some amazing figures: almost 90,000,000 potential healthcare professionals contributing with 208 million tweets (152 thousand tweets per day) and 24,519 healthcare blogs & sites around the world. Of course, this information should be carefully analyzed further, along with its nature and accuracy, but the figures confirm a big potential for social networks in making a real difference in the way medical information is shared.

Doctors are adding another dimension to their mission, from simply communicating their views on specific topics to proactively educating public, increasing awareness and interacting with patients. The use of specialized social health networks in Europe or other part of world will bring more value to everyone and could potentially save time, energy and reduce health spending.