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The evolving role of social media in health-care delivery: measuring the perception of health-care professionals in Eastern Saudi Arabia

Authors Alshakhs F, Alanzi T

Received 18 April 2018

Accepted for publication 14 June 2018

Published 21 September 2018 Volume 2018:11 Pages 473—479

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/JMDH.S171538

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Colin Mak

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Scott Fraser


Fatimah Alshakhs, Turki Alanzi

Health Information Management and Technology Department, College of Public Health, Imam Abdulrahman Bin Faisal University, Dammam, Saudi Arabia

Purpose: The objective of this study is to evaluate the perception of health-care professionals in Saudi Arabia toward the usages of social media in health-care delivery.
Methods: In this cross-sectional study, an online-based questionnaire was distributed among the health-care professionals residing in the eastern region of Saudi Arabia. Their perception toward the uses of social media in health-care service delivery was evaluated by analyzing their attitude toward its benefits and risks involved.
Results: The sample size was 120 participants, and 80% of them agreed with the benefits of using social networks in health-care services and considered that the use of these technologies in the provision of health services improves their professional knowledge and is a suitable tool for patient education and public health awareness. However, some respondents (20%) believed that there are several risks associated with the use of social media, such as ethical or legal challenges, the risk to the patient’s health status, or the breaching of the privacy and confidentiality of the patient.
Conclusion: The results of this research indicate that social media can be a useful tool by which physicians may promote their services and publish general health information. However, there are potential problems in the use of social networks that can have negative consequences for patients and HCPs. This implies that precautions must be taken to avoid ruptures of patient privacy and other risks that can result in legal action against health professionals damaging their image and professional status. The study also found that the participants are willing to use social media for professional purposes.

Keywords: social media, health-care professionals, HCPs, Saudi Arabia

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