Blog: Incorporation of social media integral to success of diabetes education

  • August 7, 2013

PHILADELPHIA — As social media becomes a significant part of people’s lives, researchers and clinicians are beginning to recognize the important role it can play in improving communication with patients. In this blog post, Linda E. Sartor, RD, MA, CDE, LDN, RYT, a nutrition specialist at the Penn Rodebaugh Diabetes Center in Philadelphia, shares her thoughts on a presentation about the importance of social media in diabetes education at this year’s American Association of Diabetes Educators Annual Meeting and Exhibition.

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Tuesday, Aug. 7, 1:00 p.m.

The cost of diabetes care in the US reached a colossal $245 billion dollars in 2012 — more than the combined revenues of Apple and Microsoft or, to cast the problem in another light, more than the annual cost of the war on terror.

Linda E.Sartor, RD, MA, CDE, LDN, RYT 

Linda E. Sartor

Given the huge surge in use of social media (2.4 million Facebook users in the US alone, 43% of whom are now seniors), diabetes clinics and clinicians alike need to take a second look. The days of face-to face visits are being replaced with shared medical appointments, Skype sessions, telephone sessions and other virtual visits. Clinicians need to step up to the genius bar, learn the lingo, work out the bugs with their legal and human resource departments and get online! With more than 50 million users worldwide, visual platforms, including Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter Vine and Google+, help those with diabetes connect with health professionals, share support, recipes, information and more.

But where's the research, you ask? Research now supports that patients engaged in social media made more informed treatment decisions, managed symptoms more effectively and coped with side effects of diabetes more effectively (Wicks et al via patientslikeme.com).  In their research, Barak et al showed that online support group participants improved medical decision making and personal empowerment, resulting in positive behavioral outcomes.

In addition, The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, requires patient/client engagement as an integral component of quality of care for those with Medicare. What to do if your employer is hesitant to sign on? Develop a social media policy that respects patient privacy and confidentiality and follows ethical and legal guidance and upholds your own professional reputation. Whether online visits, mobile apps or diabetes blogs, the Internet is changing daily — don't miss out!

  • Linda E. Sartor, RD, MA, CDE, LDN, RYT, is a nutrition specialist at the Penn Rodebaugh Diabetes Center in Philadelphia. Sartor reports no relevant financial disclosures.

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