Social media users, and communal Internet forums in general, continue to increase in number. It is a source of a good deal of interesting data—yet, healthcare providers seem to approach social media as one of the contents in Pandora’s box. Because of the potential good to be had from large data analysis, healthcare providers should get engaged through social media and think critically about its potential, while being mindful of potential privacy and legal risks.
Healthcare providers are often slow to adopt new technology; there are good reasons for this cautious approach. Yet, while other industries are early adopters of new technology, healthcare providers can often seem like laggards because their large capital outlays tend to go to equipment and services that directly deliver patient care: monitors, fluoroscopy units, magnetic resonance imaging machines and new private patient rooms.