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Day 15: Healthcare Professionals and Social Media

Why healthcare professionals should use social media

Healthcare professionals could provide good information to patients and combat unhelpful rumors.

This challenge may seem daunting, but I know someone is trying. I keep finding my GI doc all over the internet. His interviews, articles, and videos on various websites show his willingness to go above and beyond his job requirements. He works tirelessly to improve the lives of everyone with IBD, not just the people he sees at his home hospital. We need more people like him!

The most worrisome threads I have found on discussion forums and Facebook groups involve questions and comments from people who lack a source of good medical information. In these threads, I often see questions that could be easily answered by medical professionals. Instead, the responses are full of direct contradictions and end up just confusing everyone without providing constructive answers.

First of all, urgent medical questions should be directed at doctors. When people post pictures of infected wounds or tell their internet about all their mysterious symptoms and request ideas on what the problem might be, I get concerned. Some folks seem to have trouble with access to responsive doctors or WOCNs, so they might have to travel further to find adequate care. Not all doctors and hospitals are equal, so it’s worth the time and effort to find the right fit. If you have to turn to Facebook for your urgent medical needs, something is seriously wrong. Social media buddies can be very handy for lots of things, but they are not a cure-all no matter how awesome they might be.

The other type of medical question I see is less urgent. People ask about medication side effects, surgical complications, or just wonder about anatomical quirks. I think healthcare professionals could help with these. Here are a few examples:

If I am missing parts of my digestive tract, will I have a Vitamin B12 deficiency? (Maybe)
When you’re missing your whole colon, do you still have an appendix? (No)
Could uncontrollable itchiness be a side effect of pain medication? (Yes)

On a personal note, I am very behind on correspondence and reading everyone’s blog entries. My computer issues and my allergies to everything outside have put a damper on life. It’s okay though; I have tea, ice cream, and lots of nature documentaries on Netflix. I love you all and I look forward to feeling more lively and productive soon!

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