The whole world is at buzz with being connected and the world becoming small enough where a shout from one end of the earth can be heard on the other side. It’s a world where news is trending in twitter before even the CNN’s and BBC’s of the world get a wisp of it. With a dawn of social media, the world has become one big Virtual Market place.

A market necessarily need not be where commercial business alone take place, it’s just a term which denotes a place where people of various interest come, meet, make friends, exchange ideas, build relationships, seek information etc. It’s a common place with a lot of activities happening with a lot of giving and taking.

Social networking started as a platform within a university and has spread its wings to various industry, and now with more and more people getting on to one of these social networking platforms, it is slowly becoming imperative for industries to get into the bandwagon to capitalize on the movement. And with the Social networking becoming industry agnostic, it is also one of the platforms where industries capitalize more to get to know and build relationship and trust among their customers.

Social media has its influence on healthcare also, for long healthcare delivery has been plagued with complains of a large imbalance between supply and demand and there has been continuous effort on reducing cost to keep the system just viable.  And one of the many ways through which this could be achieved is through the tools Social Media can offer.

Yes, you heard that right, they do work in reducing the cost, Cost involved in healthcare delivery. Consider the below mentioned research where Providers  have reported various types of savings (1):

  •  63 cents every time they don’t have to mail a lab result (HealthPartners).
  • $17 every time they can handle a billing query online rather than by phone, and $7 for every appointment scheduled online (Northshore University Health System).
  • 25 percent reduction in the number of patients who have to come into the office for a surgical follow-up visit (Geisinger Health System, for which a reduction in office visits is good news financially, due to its other role as an insurer for many of its patients). Geisinger also estimates that it averts 12,000 phone calls a month because people can transact business and get their questions answered online.

From the above mentioned examples it’s very clear that the savings could be phenomenal once lots more patients register in the Portal and every organization involved in Healthcare delivery has the potential to capitalize on it.

Also the other common problem which attributes to high dissatisfaction level are the commoditization of healthcare where the relationship between patient and the doctor had become almost non-existent and distant. This can be mainly attributed again to the demand and supply issues.

Patient portal and other social networking platforms can sure bridge this Gap and can ensure that the doctors could have a better understanding of the patient’s lifestyle, habits and behaviors.  It enables the patient to post a query to the doctor or a forum where they get answers from physicians or from the fellow patient who is going through the same problem.

These platforms also are  known to ease the strain which is currently in the system where the patient needs to visit the doctor for each and every issue where the platform can enable the patient to connect to the Dr through his inbox or through a Forum to clarify his doubts and issues, also it will enable the users to access his record through a secured login and view all the related prescription and lab reports completely taking the strain on the hospital staff who are entangled in a mess of work involving scheduling appointments to sending out the reports.

With the given constrains and challenges within the healthcare delivery, hospitals can sure capitalize on this wave and see how they could engage with the patient so that it’s a win-win for both. Of course to start off, it’s imperative for them to come up with an acceptable social network policy (which is another topic altogether), but nevertheless its time the hospitals start thinking about it. If an apple a day keeps a doctor away, a click a day doesn’t keep the doctor away meaning this is one platform which brings both the doctors and patients closer.

(1). Will Patient Portals Open the Door to Better Care? (http://www.healthdatamanagement.com).

Finny.Chellakumar