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Role of social media to support person-centered care in small healthcare practices

Debashish Mandal, Robert J McQueen, Owen Doody, Ita Richardson


Rationale, aims and objectives: Healthcare practitioners use social media to receive feedback from patients to deliver better person-centered care. The aim of this research was to investigate the ability of social media to support person-centered healthcare in small practices. The objectives of this study were to: (a) diagnose their existing patient care processes; (b) introduce social media to them as an additional channel for communication and feedback with their patients & (c) examine the effectiveness of social media to support delivery of person-centered healthcare.

Method: The study used an action research method to train 20 healthcare practitioners in small practices in the use of social media. Data were collected through unstructured interviews and analysis of social media scripts. Thematic analysis of the source data was undertaken, supported by Nvivo software.

Results: Practitioners reported that social media assisted and supported delivery of person-centered healthcare if suitable training and implementation processes were used. The introduction of social media increased healthcare practitioners’ socialising and personalising capabilities, which enhanced their capability to empathise with patients. Socialising increased because of improved 2-way communication and trust between practitioner and patient and improved a practitioner’s capability to personalise care for patients. Through building trust and additional communication, practitioners were better able to motivate patients to undertake behavioural changes.

Conclusions: Social media use can enhance person-centered care by bridging social, economic and demographic differences between practitioner and patient. Small healthcare practitioners need suitable training in social media to support person-centered healthcare.


Action research, connected health, personalised care, person-centered care, small healthcare practices, social media

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