"I'm Home(screen)!": Social Media in Health Care Has Arrived.

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Publication Date: 
Nov 04, 2017

In more than a decade, the adoption and use of some type of social media among American adults has risen from 5% in 2005 to nearly 70% in 2016. The reigning social media platform by usage, Facebook, has 142% more American adult users than the second most utilized social media platform, Instagram, which was purchased by Facebook in March 2012. Of the 68% of American adult Facebook users, more than three quarters visit the site daily. Although social media applications (apps) such as Facebook and Instagram are the clear draw among users, health care apps are beginning to gain traction as well. In 2017, 32% of consumers now have at least 1 health app on their smartphones or tablets, doubling over the past 4 years. Although having an app should not be confused with using an app, having an app downloaded and available for use is a step closer to ongoing adoption. Mobile apps in health care are being used for ordering and scheduling health care services, as well as tracking and managing aspects of health and wellness. An incredible opportunity now exists to connect and leverage social media to enhance the impact of health care, particularly in the areas of drug development, clinical trial recruitment, and therapy administration and adherence, in which dose reminders, sharing of side effects and response, and the accessibility of patients to one another has both a context and a platform. This commentary serves as an introduction to the ways that social media and mobile health care apps are being used in real-world settings as tools to advance the development and effectiveness of clinical therapeutics.