More than one hundred health professionals passionate to learn and deploy social media for better healthcare delivery gathered in Lagos at the 2015 Medic West Africa Conference and Exhibition for Nigeria’s first Social Media & Healthcare Masterclass.
The masterclass was organised by the HealthNewsNG.com team, with logistics support from Informa Life Sciences Exhibitions – organisers of the Medic West Africa Conference.
The speakers agreed that social media and the internet have inevitably become potent tools for the advancement of innovation in the health sector. Consequently, practitioners are encouraged to embrace them as patients are already deploying these tools to find solutions to their healthcare challenges.
According to Pew Internet research, one in four internet users have watched an online video about health; tracked weight, diet, exercise routine, or other health indicator online; and consulted online reviews of drugs and/or medical treatments.
PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) also reported that nearly 90% of 18 to 24-year-olds have indicated they would engage in health activities through social media; nearly 50% of respondents expect their healthcare providers to respond within a few hours to appointment requests made via social media; and customers spent a significant amount of time on healthcare consumer community sites compared to healthcare company sites.
One of the highlights of the masterclass was the recognition and appreciation of the heroic efforts of Ebola volunteers from Nigeria. Nurse Emeka Nwosu shared his experience volunteering to help Liberia to deal with the Ebola outbreak. He said his decision to volunteer was aided by access to more correct information about the virus via social media than his other colleagues.
Lawal Bakare, founder of EbolaAlert.org and Ada Ezeokoli, Editor at Nigeria Health Watch, shared lessons and experiences learned during the Ebola outbreak in Nigeria and how their organisations effectively utilised social media to disseminate accurate information about the virus.
Among various issues raised about social media integration in healthcare, there were concerns about privacy and appropriate usage by health professionals. Participants agreed that in as much as it is very useful in public enlightenment, recruitment, brand monitoring, etc., users should employ all professional ethics obtainable offline.
In his presentation, Paul Adepoju, Managing Editor of HealthNewsNG.com said healthcare professionals have a role to play to help educate patients about using social media responsibly, and that medical practitioners should ensure they do not promote unproven treatments, share links to bogus treatments, and avoid information overload.