Social Media Cuts Costs, Improves Outcomes

October 28, 2010

It turns out Twitter could be good for your health. Social media initiatives that allow doctors, patients, and researchers share patient information can improve the quality of care and drive down costs, a new report found.

It turns out Twitter could be good for your health. Social media initiatives that allow doctors, patients, and researchers share patient information can improve the quality of care and drive down costs, a new report found.

The report, published by the Healthcare Performance Management Institute, took a look at several case studies that showed how the Health 2.0 initiatives were promoting better patient outcomes and cost efficiencies, InformationWeek reported.

"The new collaborative technologies and Twitter-like Internet connectivity tools foster a collaborative environment that allows organizations - and the people who work in them - to gain much greater control over many important healthcare factors,"

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For example, the Point to Point (P2P) Healthcare program offered by Healthcare Interactive and WellNet Healthcare combines a repository for storing and analyzing medical data with an online social network that links the company's employees with their providers.

The programs can benefit patients, as well as physicians, "because communication and collaboration with their patients and peers enables better treatment outcomes," the report states.

This news might come as no surprise for many in the healthcare community already engaging in social networks (particularly those in the e-patient movement). But considering that a majority of physicians don't connect online with their patients or colleagues, there are clearly barriers to fully realizing the power of social media.

The concerns we most often hear about engaging online and through social networks revolve around time, reimbursement, and security. Why spend uncompensated time engaging online? And are you opening yourself up to liabilities when connecting with patients? Those attitudes tend to be shifting, as physicians realize the increase in efficiencies that can come with online networking and information sharing (and in some cases payers are catching up). And often, the security fears are unfounded or can be solved with encrypted systems and new processes.

What's holding you back from diving into these Health 2.0 initiatives? Or, if you're a believer, tell us about it.