Social media and improving healthcare have become strongly linked in recent times. Many providers are looking to social media to find new ways to widen healthcare demographics. This has not gone unnoticed by the Air Force Medical Service who have a new initiative designed to improve patient health outcomes. Furthermore, this culture of wellness and healthy living is being promoted to Air Force personnel.
Air Force Col. Douglas Anderson, the director of the Commanders Action Group, Office of the Surgeon General is one person behind this initiative.
He believes that “this effort was viewed as a means to enhance implementation of various communication, outreach and electronic health initiatives and activate patients.”
Health literacy has also increased since Facbook accounts and standardized website information has been given to military treatment facilities whilst Facebook virtual support groups have been very successful.
There has been a positive response to these social media tools. In fact, the AFMS now has a fan base that has increased by 120 percent in the past six months. Currently, the weekly reach of the Facebook page now exceeds 68,039 unique users, and the potential viral reach is greater than 1.3 million Facebook users.
Air Force Maj. Laurie Migliore is the director of educational service for the Center of Excellence for Medical Multimedia, another aspect of the initiative. She believes recent studies show that active involvement in health management has been linked to improved health outcomes and wants to pass this information along to military personnel.
“Health literacy is vital to healthy outcomes. If a patient cannot understand the directions on a prescription bottle [or] instruction sheet, a pre-op instruction or [a] piece of medical equipment, the chances of using that information accurately is dramatically reduced. Basic information like when or how to schedule an appointment, what to do in case of an emergency and how to prevent or treat a condition can become overwhelming if an individual has low functional health literacy.”
The concept behind all this is that actively engaging people to pursue their own health outcomes has positive results not only in understanding how to properly care for themselves, but also has a sustainable impact on their health for years to come.
There are various other electronic strategies that are being used by the AFMS to provide health information to its soldiers. These strategies include blogging, medical campaigns focused on disease prevention such as diabetes, as well as distribution of social media toolkits to healthcare personnel.
Col. Douglas Anderson comments on the goals of the AFMS.
“The ultimate goal of these tools is to provide one-stop shopping for approved health information with a personal touch. These innovations will improve patients’ quality and access to care, increase satisfaction of patients and staff, and improve population health by empowering patients to take an active role in their health and healthcare.”