While opinions vary regarding social media’s value in our society, there’s no denying that it is a utility for millions of people. According to a study published in 2017, more than 40 percent of healthcare consumers use social media for healthcare information needs. Even more staggering, 90 percent of healthcare consumers aged 18–24 use healthcare information they view on social media.
Cheryl Crow, OT, will share how providers and consumers can leverage social media the right way in the Daltroy Lecture: Life Hacks in Rheumatic Disease: Lessons Learned from TikTok and Social Media. This “edutainment” session will be presented in a talk show format on Monday, November 14, from 10:30–11:30 a.m. ET, with moderator Barbara A. Slusher, PA-C, MSW, ARP President. Meeting participants have the option to attend the session in person in Terrace Ballroom I of the Pennsylvania Convention Center or on the meeting website via livestream, or to view the session on demand.
Crow will weave her professional experiences as an occupational therapist with her personal experiences as a patient living with rheumatoid arthritis to illustrate the pros and cons of patient education delivered through social media.
“We have to meet people where they’re at,” Crow said. “This topic is important because it’s a daily behavior patients are undertaking, myself included. It’s become part of the fabric of our lives.”
While the negatives of social media, such as misinformation, are well recorded, Crow sees the potential benefits of these platforms as exciting new ground for healthcare professionals and their patients. Studies of social media usage have shown positive correlations with health management and health promotion, but Crow is also interested in the psychosocial support these platforms can provide.
For Crow and many others considered part of vulnerable populations due to their immunosuppressant cortisone treatments, social media became a lifeline throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only did these mediums provide a sense of community during quarantine, but they became a forum to share daily “life hacks” for living with rheumatic diseases.
“I’m not saying you should look on TikTok for your most important medical or vaccination information,” Crow explained. “In terms of strategies and tools for daily living, though, it’s really powerful to learn from other people who have that similar lived experience.”
Crow believes providers who don’t post on social media themselves can still gain valuable insights into their patients’ care needs. By following these online communities, clinicians can keep tabs on the day-to-day challenges affecting their patients that might not show up on a patient’s health record.
“Patients are sharing their daily living adaptations, which can inform providers on ways their patients can improve their quality of life,” Crow said.
She hopes social media skeptics will attend the lecture. She understands the many concerns about the downsides of social media and aims to counterbalance those fears with the knowledge that these online communities can play a vital role in a patient’s overall health journey.
“Social media is here to stay,” Crow said. “So, it’s in our best interests as health professionals to understand how to harness the power of social media as a means for patient education and health behavior change while avoiding its pitfalls.”