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Introduction

There have been great developments in medical treatment and health service providers from this beginning the century, but the changes observed during the last few years have been more rapid. Hospitals and healthcare providers are today reaching patients through social media. Research conducted by health and wellness in America shows that over 30 % of consumers use social media when searching for information regarding health issues. The practice of medicine has gone through change too, it first gone through a period of mechanization followed by computerization (Michelle, 2010). Patients today can be hooked up to computerized medical device with ability to take pictures of their inner bodies. The photographed inner organs can thus be interpreted by a doctor and administer treatment.

Benefit to the patient

The use of social media channels has great benefits for the patients. They provide information to patients. Healthcare new media conference reported that over 70% of patients look for medical information online. The amounts of accurate information that can easily be obtain from the net assist many patients to make the right decisions. Integrating social media in healthcare marketing mix has enabled hospitals and other healthcare providers to give information regarding symptoms, diseases, prescriptions and treatments to patients (Sharp, 2011). Social sites also assist patients to share there health problems and ask medical personnel about treatments.

Patient confidentiality

Displaying patients' information without their consent in on social media constitutes breeches of patients' confidentiality. This may result in penalty from health care regulating organizations like state boards of nursing. For illustration, in Illinois if a nurse willfully or negligently violates confidentiality of a patient, she is liable for disciplined on grounds of professional misconduct.

Effectiveness

Medical practitioners have increasingly become aware of the effectiveness of online marketing. They have joined other industries in utilizing media in informing patients regarding health issues. Online is proved to work as a large number of patients today search online for health solutions. Medical practitioners who reach their patients online have been increasing rapidly.

Comparison with other modes of communication

Various modes of communication are used when reaching out for patients. These modes include television ads, radio adverts, consumer magazine and many more. Research shows that the most effective one is online advertisements. This is because many patients believe that accurate, reliable, and up to date information is readily availably on the web.

Change

Media and social networking has positively affected communication in health care. The benefits range from improved patient care due easy access to health information to self-treatment. Health advisors have increased to use this mode to assist patients.

Marketing

Healthcare and pharmaceutical industry have woken up to the new concept of online marketing. Pharmaceutical marketing falls under goods marketing while healthcare is classified under services. Strategic marketing of healthcare products and industry analysis of patients' market structure has increased health care quality. Healthcare practitioners who have applied online marketing concepts have reaped huge benefits. The benefits range from increased sales to easy communication with the patients (Michelle, 2010). Health organizations have employed marketing mix such as sales strategies in pharmaceutical products, online branding of pharmaceuticals and health care and hospital marketing. The internet has created a platform for dissemination of new ideas.

Not only has the patients benefited by easily communicating with their doctors, but also the doctors have also greatly increased their knowledge from research, reviews, and qualitative studies done by other medical professionals. Marketing scholars have also joined the medical industry and are assisting hospitals to reach even greater number of the patients. Consumers of who use online shopping of healthcare products are reporting success. A research by ENIGMA has proved that healthcare products have the best market potential compared to other products that are sold online. In 2003, more than 800,000 internet users bought prescriptions online. Marketers of pharmaceutical and healthcare products should expect dual or triple growth rates in the near future.

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