Can Using Social Media Lead To A Cure?

Social Media isn’t just for play. As a public relations and social media professional, I can easily make the business case for social media. Yes, there’s a science to it, and no, not the science to crafting the perfect headline or email subject line. I’m talking science like the medical field.

Yes that’s right, doctors are now turning to social media platforms for research. In the field of gastroenterology, those with celiac disease are by far one of the most vocal and social savvy groups out there. Just look at Beyond Celiac’s very own Facebook page.

Just like I use social listening to track the sentiment of the brands and organizations I manage on social media, doctors are using the same tactics to get a better understanding of the variety of symptoms linked to the autoimmune disease.

Picture it this way, it’s like the world’s largest focus group. As many of you know and likely see when you log on to your favorite social media sites, people often (frankly, far too often in my opinion) turn to these platforms to vent. Celiacs do that too.

Frequently on platforms like Instagram and Facebook, those with celiac disease will share their reactions upon exposure to gluten. In fact, I see it daily when I monitor my own “thebitesizedceliac” Instagram feed.

It’s no surprise doctors are taking note. It’s a valuable source of information and data that is highly beneficial to research for a cure to the disease.

In fact, a group of researchers partnered up with the Celiac Disease Group at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford to complete a study via Facebook. The medical team collected survey responses strictly through Facebook measuring the quality of life and celiac disease-related health of college Freshman during their first semester away at school.

Amidst their research, the group found that these days, the majority of patients want their healthcare providers to incorporate social media in some patient care, including appointment scheduling and reminders, diagnostic test reporting, health information sharing, prescription notifications, and answering general questions.

Do you agree? Do you want your doctors incorporating this kind of technology when treating you? And would you participate in a social media study in the hopes of curing celiac disease? I know I would.