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Facebook as a tool for communication, collaboration, and informal knowledge exchange among members of a multisite family health team

Authors Lofters AK, Slater M, Nicholas E, Leung F

Received 18 August 2015

Accepted for publication 8 December 2015

Published 25 January 2016 Volume 2016:9 Pages 29—34


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Scott Fraser

Aisha K Lofters,1,2 Morgan B Slater,1 Emily Nicholas Angl,1 Fok-Han Leung1

1Department of Family and Community Medicine, 2Centre for Research on Inner City Health, Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, St Michael's Hospital, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada

Objective: To implement and evaluate a private Facebook group for members of a large Ontario multisite Family Health Team (FHT) to facilitate improved communication and collaboration.
Design: Program implementation and subsequent survey of team members.
Setting: A large multisite FHT in Toronto, Ontario.
Participants: Health professionals of the FHT.
Main outcome measures: Usage patterns and self-reported perceptions of the Facebook group by team members.
Results: At the time of the evaluation survey, the Facebook group had 43 members (37.4% of all FHT members). Activity in the group was never high, and posts by team members who were not among the researchers were infrequent throughout the study period. The content of posts fell into two broad categories: 1) information that might be useful to various team members and 2) questions posed by team members that others might be able to answer. Of the 26 team members (22.6%) who completed the evaluation survey, many reported that they never logged into the Facebook page (16 respondents), and never used it to communicate with team members outside of their own site of practice (19 respondents). Only six respondents reported no concerns with using Facebook as a professional communication tool; the most frequent concerns were regarding personal and patient privacy.
Conclusion: The use of social media by health care practitioners is becoming ubiquitous. However, the issues of privacy concerns and determining how to use social media without adding to provider workload must be addressed to make it a useful tool in health care.

Keywords: social media, team-based care, communication, interprofessionalism, social network

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