In the United States today, cutting edge medical treatment is widely available but one of the biggest barriers to people getting access to the right treatment and doctors is a lack of information and fear of the unknown. Physicians tend to be reluctant to participate in social media but it is a major form of modern communication and can improve access to healthcare by providing easily accessible healthcare information and education in multiple different forms, in a non-intimidating way, and at any time of day.
Analysis of our own data and data from Zoc Doc, a major online medical appointment scheduling platform, demonstrate that a large proportion of patients will contact the doctors during non business hours. If our offices are closed at night and on the weekends and patients do not have alternative avenues for communication such as Facebook messaging, contacting a practice through their website or using a 24/7 online scheduling platform like Zoc Doc, we are potentially creating barriers to care.
Social media can be a relatively easy, inexpensive and effective way to provide access to health care education, information and ultimately medical care, by creating other avenues for connection and communication with patients.