Does Facebook Make Patients Sicker?

Sick at Computer

By DJ Edgerton (@wiltonbound)

Have you ever heard the expression “You’re judged by the company you keep?”

Now your social circle can even affectyour credit.

Social media is being monitored. You knew this.

But it’s being monitored by financial institutions. You may not have thought about that. So far it’s just for marketing purposes, but it certainly puts the people you’ve chosen to connect to, and the information you share, in a different light.

That’s just the most recent way we’ve seen that our circle of friends can affect what we previously thought of as individually determined behavior.

We already knew that your friends can affect your weight and activity level. As theNew England Journal of Medicine put it, “Network phenomena appear to be relevant to the biologic and behavioral trait of obesity, and obesity appears to spread through social ties.”

So here’s a controversial thought. Does it make sense to have patient support groups to be sick together?

If you want patients to get the benefit of talking to people who understand from personal experience, the good money looks like it’s on mentoring programs with successful patients.

There are many patient mentor programs throughout most disease states. But there are still many peer support groups, too.

And while there is benefit in a patient knowing others are struggling alongside him or her, in terms of truly improving health outcomes, patients don’t need commiseration – they need an exemplary friend, a coach who’s been there, a mentor. We’re encouraging our friends in healthcare to focus on developing more of these types of programs in their work.

What about your company? Will you be one of the organizations leading the way and developing mentor programs using social media?




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