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The time is right to use Twitter for Primary Care

Posted Oct 11 2010 8:30am

We all take pride in establishing ourselves as citizens of the modern 21st century world. The world has definitely become a smaller place with increasing methods of communication, and more importantly with the faster pace of communications. There is no more need to wait inordinately to get a message conveyed to someone who is located exactly opposite to your position on the Globe.

This is the age of Twitter, Facebook, MySpace (well, maybe not MySpace anymore :-) etc and most of us are more than eager to stand up and give a standing ovation to social networking, and say “Viva la Social Media”

So how far has Social networking influenced or lives?

The correct answer to this query would be- VERY MUCH. Is there any aspect of life that has not yet been touched by some or the other form of social networking? Be it love, friendship, business, work, fun, health, disease and even death- Social networking is pretty much everywhere you can find the Internet.

Has Twitter taken on addictive proportions?

It would be right to say YES. Seldom can we find a citizen of the 21st century world, who does not use Twitter or at least is not aware of it. And the remaining majority who is already too aware of Twitter is addicted to it. Well, Twitter devotion is an epidemic that has spread fast across nations. Students, adults, the old, the young, celebrities, sportspeople, politicians, your neighbor and even your dog have all found their way to Twitterdom.

So how can Social media relate to Primary Health Care?

Health care is something that is hugely personal and relates to human interaction at the core level. You cannot consider health care on par with the other services that may involve dealing with inanimate machinery or gadgets or technology.

Health care is basically a human to human interaction. And it requires a lot of human emotions and values like empathy, understanding and consideration to succeed as an efficient service. So here is where social networking or social media comes in as a link to health care. Isn’t social networking all about the same values?

Primary health care generally deals with providing basic health care to each and every citizen of the nation. Now that simply means that primary health care is actually people centric, and social networking is also PEOPLE CENTRIC, which makes them as good as siblings, each with a mind of their own, but belonging to the same set of parents.

The health care industry has fully awakened to the need of the hour, and has made timely use of social media in various aspects of primary health care. More and more health websites and organizations are active on Twitter and Face Book, not to mention their patients. Many of their patients (especially the younger ones) are only too eager to google any important information pertaining to their health care service provider, and look up to Twitter as an important tool in doing so.

Maybe this is because of the all important and handy function or tool that Twitter provides. One tweet from your end and all the members in your group receive the updated tweet instantly, no matter where ever they are located. No worries if you are away from your Laptop or personal computer and yet have an important health related tweet to send, you have your cell phone for company. Send a tweet to your Twitter account through your cell phone or even better; receive any tweets that any member has sent to you- instantly.  This is a great information sharing tool for patients that are in afflicted with similar diagnosis or suffering from a chronic condition.

Is every thing rosy in such a set up?

Well, there has never been a dearth of doubting Thomases and pessimists who have wanted to see the darker side of all things immemorial. So such folks come in at this point and ask, “Is everything as hunky-dory as you say?” You need to admit that there is some meat to their doubts.

Every coin has 2 sides as the old English adage says. So what is the bad news? It takes just a simple tweet and about 20-30 seconds for your reputation to go up in flames. Your patients or customers of your health care service are unhappy with the kind of treatment or service they received, and they decide they had had enough. Maybe that was your unlucky day, and one negative tweet from the disgruntled patient or customer and now every one knows about it. This type of issue could occur whether or not your practice uses Twitter in Primary Care.

But again there is a silver lining to this particular cloud of negative tweets. Maybe the fear and apprehension of being negatively portrayed or should I say negatively Tweeted; can keep you on your toes and thinking on your feet. This not only helps to keep your services always up to the mark, but you are propelled to excel above expectations.  At the least, the practice will be forced to protect its good name and brand via social media.

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