Social media in primary health care: Opportunities to enhance education, communication and collaboration among professionals in rural and remote locations: Did you know? Practical practice pointers

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Date
2013
Authors
Anikeeva, Olga
Bywood, Petra Teresia
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copyright 2013 The Authors, Australian Journal of Rural Health National Rural Health Alliance Inc.
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The Authors, Australian Journal of Rural Health National Rural Health Alliance Inc.
Abstract
Social media are revolutionising the way people socialise, interact and do business. Where traditional health promotional posters and brochures have had limited impact on health outcomes, social media provide an exciting new way to deliver health messages. Social media include websites such as Facebook and LinkedIn, Wikis, blogs and microblogs (e.g., Twitter). In the health care sector, these media have the potential to enhance communication between allied health and other primary health care professionals by enabling collaboration between a variety of stakeholders. The types of communication may range from individual messages sent to group members through to broad public announcements. The ability to join special interest or professional organisation groups further enhances communication and collaboration between members. Wikis can be used in a particular project to encourage collaboration between multiple stakeholders, including allied health professionals, other health care providers and patients. Blogs and microblogs can be used to build connections between allied health and other health care professionals, through the formation of networks based on a particular topic. These technologies are beneficial for professionals located in rural and remote areas, as they enable participation across geographical boundaries. Barriers to utilising these technologies include lack of training, time pressure, an increase in workload and a preference for the traditional approach to collaboration. Professionals may also be concerned about privacy, potential information overload and the lack of moderation that may compromise the accuracy of information disseminated through social media. To increase participation, allied health professionals need to be actively involved in the design and implementation of social media tools. Financial incentives and comprehensive training are likely to encourage adoption. If the identified barriers are addressed, these tools have great potential for increasing and improving communication and collaboration between professionals
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Anikeeva O, Bywood P. (2013). Social media in primary health care: Opportunities to enhance education, communication and collaboration among professionals in rural and remote locations, Australian Journal of Rural Health, 21(2), 132–134