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Social media supremacy: a force of change paving the way for the next generation of healthcare and research
  1. Simon R Stones,
  2. Joanna Smith
  1. School of Healthcare, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK
  1. Correspondence to Mr Simon R Stones, School of Healthcare, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK; hcsrst{at}leeds.ac.uk

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EBN engages readers through a range of Online social media activities to debate issues important to nurses and nursing. EBN Opinion papers highlight and expand on these debates.

This month’s opinion draws on an EBN Twitter chat that focused on using social media in healthcare. Access the blog at http://blogs.bmj.com/ebn/ and the Storify at http://storify.com/SimonRStones/healthcare-2-0.

Background

Social media is an interactive communication platform that enables conversations among individuals. The presence and use of social media has grown exponentially in the last decade, revolutionising the way in which we communicate with each other. The phrase social media is often used interchangeably to describe popular social networking sites such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. With a generation of millennials who are likely to seek initial medical advice from the internet, the healthcare community must embrace social media and its relevance to modern society. Considering over 40% of people are influenced by health-related material found on social media,1 2 the healthcare community, including patient organisations, must ensure that accessible, evidence-based information is freely available through social media to attenuate potentially misleading or inaccurate information.

Key messages from the Twitter chat (#ebnjc)

Although a range of issues were discussed during the Twitter chat, three key themes emerged. The first related to the multitude of benefits that social media can bring to the healthcare community. Participants agreed that social media enables individuals and organisations to connect and network with a diverse community of people, enabling debate, collaboration, rapid feedback to thoughts and concerns, and an important means of peer support. Where healthcare professionals (HCPs) engaged in patient–professional social media activities, it was perceived there was greater understanding of the experiences and needs of people living with health conditions. Similarly, patients felt that social media can break down the …

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