Social media has become an extraordinary tool for patient empowerment. By now patients know they can use the internet and social media to get involved with their health and they are getting more benefits out of it every day.
Social media and patient empowerment is not something from the future, it is the present! Physicians and patient care givers who don´t see it are missing a big opportunity. The time has come for all stakeholders in the health sector to adapt. This does not mean just open Facebook fan pages and Twitter accounts that give out information without interacting with patients and their loved ones. It means engaging with patients, families, other physicians and care givers. It means offering helpful information that promotes patient empowerment. It means giving patients the necessary tools so they can take their health in their own hands and feel part of a team who´s caring for them.
Although everyday more physicians, clinics, hospitals and other care givers are entering the social web so they can share with their patients, there are a lot that are still falling behind. Change takes time, and we need to keep that in mind, but it is important that it doesn´t take forever. Specially because technology advances so fast that who ever doesn´t take the leap now is probably going to be left behind to what the future in health care is promising.
The future in health care is pointing to a world were we know our selves in such a conscious way thanks to different apps, wearable devices, and monitors that the role of physicians needs to be redesigned. The quantified self movement is growing everyday, bringing new devices to help with self tracking and also sharing new experiences and results of how empowering your own health can change your doctors visits. Social media lets regular people find this results and experiences and gives them a chance to share this information with their care givers thus changing attitudes from passive patients to empowered ones. This is a clear example of social media and patient empowerment.
We still have a long way to go before we can enjoy all the advantages of patient empowerment but we are on the right track with social media. We need to remember that it is easy to get lost in the immense world that the web has to offer. This is why physicians, care givers and patients need to work together so as to remind each other that an excellent health and well being is where we are all headed thanks to social media and patient empowerment.