To discuss opportunities and challenges for pharmacists’ use of social media to affect health care.
Evolutions in social media (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, YouTube) are beginning to alter the way society communicates. These new applications promote openness, user-generated content, social networking, and collaboration. The technologies, along with patient behaviors and desires, are stimulating a move toward more open and transparent access to health information. Although social media applications can reach large audiences, they offer message-tailoring capabilities that can effectively target specific populations. Another powerful aspect of social media is that they facilitate the organization of people and distribution of content—two necessary components of public health services. Although implementing health interventions via social media poses challenges, several examples exist that display the potential for pharmacists to use social media in health initiatives.
Pharmacists have long played a role in educating patients on matters influencing health care. Social media offer several unique features that may be used to advance the role of pharmacy in health care initiatives. Public familiarity with social media, the economical nature of using social media, and the ability to disseminate information rapidly through social media make these new applications ideal for pharmacists wanting to provide innovative health care on both an individual and public level.