Social networking sites have been increasingly adopted by professional health care providers and family caregivers. Today, caregivers can share experiences and care knowledge with one another, communicate with families, learn more about medical research and treatments or plan their schedules online.
According to survey from Walker Marketing, Inc., most family caregivers involved with home care services are inclined to dialogue with other caregivers in an online forum or social networking site. In fact, 91 percent of family caregivers would be likely to conduct research after receiving a provider referral by a professional source; while 78 percent would rely on a physician for recommendations. Family caregivers ultimately make their own decisions on long-term care providers, but social media does seem to influence this decision-making.
Today, one in every five Americans uses social media for health care information according to a survey by the National Research Corporation. Moreover, caregivers are not only among them, in many ways they are leading the pack. “The Social Life of Health Information 2011“ from Pew Internet Research shows us that caregivers are one group that is significantly more likely than others to use social network sites for health-related pursuits. To this point, 28 percent of caregivers who use social networks sites say they follow friends’ health updates, compared with 21 percent of other social network site users. Twenty percent of caregivers who use social network sites say they have gathered health information on such a site, compared with 12 percent of other users.
Using social media makes caregivers more practical. A very select number of service companies have developed specific, private portals for caregivers and family members alike to communicate more effectively about care for a loved one or family member, such as the Culture of Care portal in place at FirstLight Home Care. This site allows caregivers to share details about their daily, weekly and monthly schedules, create a care plan that documents doctor recommendations, set reminders for medication times, exercise regimens or meal plans and share this information with family members from afar. Sites like these create a new kind of social network, one where the focus is on sharing health information and better enabling the delivery of high quality care and client satisfaction.
Today caregivers, health care professionals, patients and their families are sharing, talking, searching, learning and planning on social media and web-based tools. One of the key benefits is better communication with increased assurance to deliver a higher quality of life and better health. This is surely something to celebrate!