From Facebook to Twitter to YouTube, social media has crept into mainstream America at an alarming rate. It's no different in healthcare, where providers and their patients are finding new benefits -- and challenges -- to their online interactions.
According to Allied Health World, one-third of all consumers use social media for matters regarding their health. Thanks to social networking sites and the increased availability of broadband and mobile technology, people are forming online patient support groups, becoming better educated on medical topics and diagnoses, and sharing doctor and product reviews -- wherever and whenever they want.
The trend isn't lost on doctors. One study conducted in 2012 found that 24 percent said they used social media at least once a day to look for medical information, while almost two-thirds think social media enhances their ability to care for their patients.
Of course, when dealing with sensitive personal data, privacy and security concerns quickly become apparent. Consumers are worried that their medical information will go public, while insurers and providers must try to protect patient privacy and act within the bounds of HIPAA and the FDA as they participate in the online social sphere.
The following infographic from Allied Health World illustrates the possibilities -- and pitfalls -- of social media in the healthcare landscape.
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