We can use private social networks to enable patients to connect directly with their physicians and healthcare providers. By connecting directly with their physician in a private social network, doctors can provide guidance and patients can provide feedback using a simple, easy-to-use interface.
For example, diabetic patients who would normally have to visit their physician four times a month, can provide their sugar levels directly to the doctor, making his decision-making faster and easier and more precise and saving three out of the four visits.
Saving visits to the doctor for follow-up and to hospitals for stabilization is a huge win for the healthcare system in general and healthcare providers in particular.
Today, with the institutionalization of medicine, patients come into clinics and are brought into hospitals for treatment and “stabilization”, unlike 100 years ago when much medicine was delivered in the home.
Bringing patients into the hospital creates bottlenecks and exacerbates problems; as a JAMA study blames a rising population, a falling number of emergency departments, and understaffing that prevents stabilized patients from being admitted to other parts of the hospital.E.R. crowding: are the uninsured to blame?
One of the misconceptions we’ve seen is the notion that older people (who are heavy users of the medical system) are averse to using technology. As a matter of fact, our experience is that over 65 are computer-savvy, asking Doctor Google the right questions, adopting tablets and coming prepared more than ever to their doctor appointments.
Private social networks for healthcare also have significant community-oriented applications such as improving fitness of an aging population and supporting cancer patients. In a community setting, a small number of community “activists” can support large number of patients, answering technical issues, screening questions and escalating to specialists to can support a much larger number of patients than if they were treating patients in a 1:1 setting.
Patients in a private social network, love the ability to ask questions, get answers and provide data to their healthcare providers. None of this can be done on Twitter or Facebook due to privacy issues.
Privacy is indeed a key issue for physicians to adopt social software and the use of private social network for a doctor interacting with patients and caregivers in a controlled 1 on N topology should go a long way towards ameliorating physician concerns about privacy.