The utilization of social media by patients can potentially have public health implications. Both providers and patients should be cognizant of the benefits social media offers to patients. Various platforms exist, ranging from microblogging on Twitter to public forums like Medhelp, or social networking sites for patients like patientslikeme.com. To date, there has arguably been no easier way to facilitate discussion among those affected by a certain medical condition and establish communities, as well as identifying and accessing providers, support groups, and advocates. However, some have expressed concern of potential disadvantages. In addition to privacy concerns alluded to in the previous blog entry, some are concerned that patient-driven healthcare lacks accountability and that mass-sharing of anecdotes containing faulty medical evidence could be potentially hazardous. In case you're wondering, increased patient exposure to direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical marketing as a result of social media will be covered in Part 5!
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