‘Social Networking, Smart Phones Boon for Healthcare’

DUBAI - UAE physicians have been urged to use social media sites and smart phones to speed up patient consultations as well as save time and money.

During a presentation in healthcare management at the Arab Health Exhibition and Congress, a brother and sister duo highlighted the benefits of rapid interaction with patients through the use of ‘Facebook’ and ‘Twitter’ to bring healthcare at par with the changes in consumer/patient behaviour.

They say currently healthcare is way behind the consumers and needs to be speeded up.

“We doctors are afraid of legal issues and communication,” says Dr Ruben Peralta, Senior Consultant Trauma and Surgical Critical Care at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center-Hamad Hospital Partnership, Qatar.

“But now patients are driving services and quality and social media is a new cost effective marketing tool for hospitals,” he adds.

“The trend is already catching up in the US though it not yet very popular,” he adds. A USbased research presented by Dr Ruben showed that only 540 hospitals in the country had accounts with social media sites with 419 alone on Twitter and 316 on Facebook. The others were linked to YouTube and independent blogs.

Using, as an example, the Adolescent Medicine clinic at the University of Maryland, School of Medicine, where his sister Dr Ligia Peralta works as an associate professor, Dr Ruben explains the dynamics of the system.

The clinic has recently switched from the classic phone-in system to incorporate social media sites as well provided staff with new the generation smart phones with 24-hour Internet access and saved up to $5,000 a month through call costs.


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