Do you know how your patients use social media?

When I participated in a typically frantic Tweetchat discussion on Health Care and Social Media (#hcsm) last Sunday (9PM eastern) the subject of patient use of social media came up. Some tweeters focused on communication among patients and providers using, for example, Facebook and Twitter, but several voiced concerns about HIPAA compliance and privacy. Although I use both in connection with BehaveNet, as far as I know none of my patients even knows that I am Moviedoc or that I publish BehaveNet.

It has occurred to me that the ability to discuss patient care in a private and secure forum might enhance that care. I envision a virtual place where all providers involved can collaborate with the patient and even significant others or other caregivers, all with the patient's consent of course. Google Wave seemed to provide the right kind of platform, but if it has not already departed it may be on the way out. It appears though that the cloud based contact management service I use might allow me to create and host invitation-only spaces where we could hold conversations and collect and share resources.

Then it occurred to me that I don't even know whether or how any of my patients uses social media now, especially whether they use these technologies to communicate with other patients or providers about illness and treatment. I resolve now to start asking with the next patient to find out whether any might want to jump in. Next I will have to pole a few primary cares and psychotherapists.

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