Have you dipped your toe in the social media water yet? Okay, I mean beyond checking out what your friends are doing on Facebook? I mean as a professional nurse? Are you using social media to enhance your practice and to guide patients towards good, valid information regarding THEIR healthcare?
Did you know that 90% of people ages 18-24 said they would trust health information they found on a social media platform. And, the fastest growing populations of people using social media are adults middle-aged and older!
Bottom Line: Your patients are using social media to make healthcare decisions WITH or WITHOUT guidance from their nurse/members of their healthcare team.
The way we deliver healthcare is changing at rapid speeds and for nurses to continue demonstrating the value they bring to the delivery of care, we need to change too.
I believe that nurses have an ethical responsibility to influence decision-making and guide patients towards reputable social media/internet sites. But how can we do that if WE aren’t involved?
Follow these steps to help YOU keep up with the changes:
1.   Explore– spend time learning about the various social media/internet sites that produce health information. If you do this consistently, you’ll start to become more comfortable with how online health information is delivered.
2.   Discuss– engage in dialogue with other members of the healthcare team regarding various sites. Compare and contrast different sites. Learning accelerates when more than one person is involved.
3.   Validate– find out what sites are credible. This can be tricky but not impossible. Applications such as HonCode helps consumers determine if a site is accredited. Click here for HonCode.
4.   Ask – when caring for patients, ask what social media/internet sites they access for health information. You’ll get to know some of the most common online sites – some that you may have never heard about!
5.   Influence– recommend valid online sites to patients while in your care. Seriously. Once you know a site is valid/accredited, steer patient towards it and away from others.
Recently, I discovered an online site that I think is spectacular! It’s called Medivizor.This company basically explores all of the research on a particular disease, compiles it into one place, and then summarizes the information in laymans terms so that patients can actually understand it. The beauty of this site is that each patient creates a profile and is asked very specific questions are their disease – diagnosis date, staging (if cancer), treatments so far, etc. – then they use a patient’s specific information as a filter that removes any information that doesn’t pertain to THAT individual patient. Super cool.
I was able to view a demonstration and immediately saw the application not only to patients but to nurses too! Sometimes when I’m trying to quickly learn about a particular topic, say, new diabetes treatments, I do what everyone else does – Google it. But then I get a gazillion responses! I’d love to use Medivizor too! That way, I can filter responses and focus on evidence-based articles and research studies.
So I asked the folks from Medivizor if nurses could use Medivizor too. Guess what? It’s in the works! Medivizor is working on giving access to healthcare professionals too. Can’t wait.
Check out their site, bookmark it and check back for updates.
Remember, nurses have an ethical responsibility to educate our public on ways to promote good health, manage disease, and create the best possible outcomes.
Dip your toe, foot and leg in the social media pool…our public is already swimming!
Thanks for reading. Take care and stay connected!

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