Social media (SoMe) has slowly but surely infiltrated diabetes healthcare. Increasing numbers of people with diabetes are using SoMe platforms to gather information, connect with others living with the same health condition and liaise with their healthcare team. In Australia, consumers have embraced this technology, but healthcare professionals have been reluctant to introduce SoMe into their arsenal of diabetes support tools.
The Diabetes Online Community (DOC) uses SoMe platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Google Hangouts, portals and forums to engage people from all over the world. Weekly twitter chats attract a global audience of participants and provide real-time discussions about real-life with diabetes.
The Australian community has grown significantly over the last 12 months with the introduction of a small, but well-regarded and vocal blogging community, and the development of the Australian Diabetes Online Community (OzDOC) which now hosts weekly chats on Twitter about all things diabetes. The lack of geographical and social boundaries means this community is truly representative of people with diabetes across the country and is reaching people who previously have felt isolated and ignored by more traditional means of communication.
Healthcare professionals have a place in the SoMe fabric as participants in the discussion and listeners to the agenda set by consumers. People with diabetes would welcome and support the engagement of healthcare professionals in SoMe and are looking at how new platforms can be used to engage with their healthcare team. Rather than being suspicious of and reluctant to use new technologies, now is the time to get involved and work with consumers to safely navigate the online diabetes world.