The consequences of using publicly available social media applications specifically for healthcare purposes are largely unaddressed in current research. Where they are addressed, the focus is primarily on issues of privacy and data protection. We therefore use a case study of the first live Twitter heart operation in the Netherlands, in combination with recent literature on social media from other academic fields, to identify a wide range of ethical issues related to using social media for health-related purposes. While this case reflects an innovative approach to public education and patient-centeredness, it also illustrates the need for institutions to weigh the various aspects of use and to develop a plan to deal with these on a per case basis. Given the continual development of technologies, researchers may not yet be able to oversee and anticipate all of the potential implications. Further development of a research agenda on this topic, the promotion of guidelines and policies and publication of case studies that reveal the granularity of individual situations, will therefore help raise awareness and assist physicians and institutions in using social media to support existing care services.
|Journal||Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics|
|Publication status||Accepted/In press - 2014|