How Social Media Is Saving Lives

Social media has become much more than catching up with friends. Businesses have taken to social platforms to advertise, and physicians have gone this route to communicate health information and awareness. From revealing breast cancer signs to symptoms of cardiovascular problems to helping raise money for ALS research, social media health awareness has helped save lives.

The medical community has quickly caught on to the power to educate the public. A trend known as free open access medication, or FOAM, has emerged. 1 It gives emergency medicine physicians a new way to share medical information. Doctors use file sharing applications to distribute information, and some post lectures and podcasts on Facebook and Twitter. Blogging in numerous fields has enabled medical professionals to share their insights, for example, and work towards a breast cancer cure, make people aware of the various skin cancer types, and so much more.

Breast Cancer Awareness

A Cultural Phenomenon

You won’t only find information about surgery on social media. The cultural phenomenon of health awareness has reached far and wide. Talk show host Ellen DeGeneres was vocal about Breast Cancer Awareness Month in 2011, discussing topics such as self-examination and her own mother’s fight with the disease and survival. Using comedy and practicality, she was able to reach out to those facing cancer removal surgery or who had loved ones facing similar challenges.

However, people aren’t waiting to hear from celebrities to learn about skin cancer signs, for example, or how they can raise awareness and funds for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge was started to raise money for Lou Gehrig’s disease research. Filming people getting ice water dumped over their heads paid off. Over $115 million was raised for the ALS Association and the discovery of a gene associated with the illness, NEK 1, was discovered using gene sequencing. It’s just one of 30 genes linked to the disease. 2

Social media health awareness

A Window into Cardiovascular Disease

In 2014, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine launched a social media campaign for cardiovascular disease awareness. 3 It involved using Twitter to post diet and exercise tips, facts about heart disease, and success stories. Over 435,000 users were reached during February. Longer posts were put on Facebook, which reached nearly 40,000 users according to the university. In addition, UNC posted photos and heart-healthy recipes on Pinterest and instructions for making an origami heart on Vine, using stop-motion video.

Social media is where it’s possible to reach a substantial number of people, and raise awareness so serious diseases can be detected early. It’s already known early detection and action increases the cancer removal success rate. Health matters are openly discussed on Facebook, where there were 620 breast cancer groups as of 2014, with a total of over 1,090,000 members. 4

Whether it’s breast cancer for women, heart disease, or ALS, social media has helped raise awareness and, in many cases, save lives.

The Surgery Group of Los Angeles is equipped and staffed to address numerous procedures. To get in touch, contact us at (424) 303-4949.