Online social networking sites provide a good platform for individuals and patients to get medical advice easily. However, a health expert has cautioned not to follow them blindly.
“People can learn a lot from the social media. We get to know the opinions of friends, colleagues and the patients who are suffering from the same medical condition like migraine, and learn their routine. Because doctors are so busy nowadays they might not be able to give you extensive information but you can get this now online,” Dr Prem Jagyasi, MD and CEO of ExHealth, Dubai, and founder of the Global Healthcare Network, told Khaleej Times.
“However, since the social media is not well-monitored, there is no authenticity and no control of the content. Anyone can basically write anything and that’s the danger,” he warned.
“So you need to make sure that you only follow established chapters and organisations. Go to websites that are government-owned. There are also very good private websites but look for the HoN logo (certified by the Health on the Net Foundation) which will authenticate that this information is from very good resources,” he suggested.
Although social networking sites such as At his presentation at the World Health Care Congress (WHCC) Middle East last week, Dr Jagyasi noted the growing trends and impact of social media in healthcare in areas of education, communication and marketing.
He said that among the “prosumers”, or consumers who proactively seek out health information, 80 per cent seek it for themselves and on average check out five sites to get the most accurate information.
They seek out information primarily to see what other consumers say about a certain medication or treatment, as well as, to research other consumer’s knowledge and experiences, added Dr Jagyasi.
For the last 10 years, internet users in the Middle East increased by 1825.3 percent, more than four times than that of the rest of the world. As of June 2010, internet penetration in the Middle East stands at 29.8 per cent of the population while it is 28.7 per cent in the rest of the world.
Among the countries in the region, the UAE account for the second highest internet users at 75.9 per cent of the population, following Bahrain at 88 per cent.