You use your mobile phone for everything: monitoring the weather, stock prices, and what your favourite celebrity is doing on a Saturday night. So if you had diabetes, wouldn’t it make sense to use your phone to monitor that, too?

What if you were a registered nurse trying to provide palliative care to a dozen patients during a night shift? If you could use your mobile phone to connect with other support workers, to provide better care for more people, wouldn’t that just make sense?

At MaRS’ Social Networks and Health Care Global Leadership event, three expert panelists shared their thoughts on how social networking platforms can be used to improve the quality of healthcare: improving access to, and efficacy of, healthcare treatments. Here’s the video:

Examples of some unique, successful solutions showed that there is significant potential for social networks to fill many gaps in our healthcare system:

  • BANT, a mobile app for managing treatment of diabetes in children, encourages active self-monitoring. This app links directly with the glucometer to easily track blood-glucose levels, and incorporates a micro-networking site, Twitter, and virtual rewards to increase compliance and promote positive health behaviours.
  • Software accessible on your mobile phone that provides backup to personal support workers and nurses working in palliative care, enabling better, more unified care, and happier workers, family and friends.
  • Websites such as www.patientslikeme.com, which connect patients with other patients with their disease, so that someone with a more rare disease can find support from someone who understands what they’re going through.

Empowering patients through social networks

Uses for social networking solutions vary greatly in health care settings, and serve operational, clinical, palliative, and educational functions.

But the key theme of social networking solutions is personal empowerment for improving health. These platforms aim to increase efficacy of treatment, and put the power into the patients’ hands through better education of treatment options, a strengthened support community for both patients and caregivers, and increased communication between both.

Social networking platforms have the power to:

  • Empower patients to make decisions about their treatment
  • Increase compliance with a treatment regimen, leading to better health outcomes
  • Improve education about treatment options, and self-awareness about disease states and overall health and wellness
  • Increase communication within a team of personal support workers, so they can share knowledge about a common patient or get quick answers for any question
  • Bring together a patient with their doctor, even when they’re apart
  • Unite groups of patients that are going through the same experience

In daily life, social networking platforms are ubiquitous and undeniably influential on the way we build relationships and share information. But the healthcare system has been slow to adapt, so there is a need for keen entrepreneurs to jump in there and stir up the waters with solutions that make people happier… and healthier!

Caitlin McCabe

Caitlin helps make sure our clients in the life sciences and health care industry have a great experience with our life sciences practice at MaRS. See more…