It’s safe to say we’re living during the age of immediate information. One touch of a phone app gives access to your bank account, you can set electronic reminders of appointments, you have electronic airline tickets, you get the latest news as it’s happening, but why can’t your doctor tweet or message you about healthcare?
People are online looking for medical info and advice anyways, right? Studies have shown that around 70-75% of Internet users aged 18-64 have searched online for health information. Around 60% of those aged 65 and over also look up health information online.
So it’s naturally that doctors are feeling the push for more online information. However, there is one huge block that is stopping your doctor from joining the Internet conversation: HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996). This privacy rules protect personal information and sets security standards of health information, which of course, is a good thing.
Twitter and Facebook are obviously not secure and unfortunately don’t comply with HIPAA rules. So they can’t post about a specific medical condition using social media. But doctors have found ways to become part of the Internet exchange while being HIPAA compliant.
The first is secure online access to your medical records. Instead of phone calls, new online tools allows for secure online communication with your doctors office. This is a fast and easy way to manage your healthcare and access medical records.
Another connection with medical professionals is secure virtual support groups and online forums. Although, the one problem with online forums is whether they offer reliable medical info and securing of personal information.
Finally, your doctor may become a blogger. Specialty medical blogging is a social way to reach patient while offering reliable health information. Doctors can field broader questions or create a dialoged about health issues without giving away private information
With the world becoming more connected and information becoming easier to find, doctors have a tedious task of getting the right information out there while honoring important personal information.
The question is, would you like to have your doctor or dentist available online? Do you think this trend is good? What are your thoughts?