Enlarging Our Borders: Using Facebook for Health Education

7:25:00 AM

One of the usual activities that we do in medical school is public health lectures. We go to the outpatient department and different wards in the hospital to teach the patients about different health topics. We prepare creative presentations so that our patients will remember the information that we share with them. We also create brochures which they can read at home and even share to their relatives. However, in this era of connectivity through social media, there is a potential to reach wider audience for health education. Through social media, we can already share health information to people all over the world. Filipinos are one of the top nations when it comes to using social media. A lot of us have smartphones and mobile networks already provide free Facebook. So it is easier now to reach our patients through social media. 

I started blogging more than two years ago. I created Doktor Doktor Lads. Lads is my nick name and "Doktor Doktor" because I'm an MD-PhD student, so it stands for the two doctorate degrees. I started blogging about Filipino children's books and then I learned about #HealthXPH which is a group of medical doctors which promote the use of emerging technologies and social media to positively impact Philippine health landscape. I joined their weekly tweetchat and eventually got encourage by Dok Bru (Dr. Iris Isip-Tan) to create my own Facebook page for my health blogs. Dok Bru then introduced me to Dr. Willie Ong. They become my mentores in health blogging. 

At first, it was challenging because I have to study diseases and translate in Filipino. I have to get reliable and evidence-based sources because I don't want to misinform my readers. Health blogging was actually beneficial to me because it reinforced the knowledge that I learned from lectures in medical schools because I usually post in Facebook topics that I learned in lectures or in the clinics. I also have to learn how to create posters because Facebook posts with pictures tend to have higher number of likes, comments and shares. I also learned Facebook analytics and how to use it to analyze the demographics of my followers, what types of posts get more engagements, which time of the day I usually get the highest engagement. After few months in health blogging, I gained skills in creating interesting contents and the following of my Facebook page eventually increased. 

Health blogging opened a lot of opportunities for me for personal development and networking. I became part of "Health League" which is a group of medical doctors who are active in sharing health information in social media. The group is led by Dr. Willie and Dr. Liza Ong. Some of the members include Dr. Iris Isip-Tan, Dr. Gia Sison, Dr. Meredith Garcia, Dr. Ging Racaza, Dr. Katrina Florcruz, Dr. Richard Mata. I learned a lot from the experiences of each members of the group. Each of us are active in educating the public about evidence-based healthcare through social media. The group hopes to encourage more medical doctors to use the power of social media to share correct information in order to dilute the health misinformation in social media from snakeoil salesmen who take advatange of the patients.

Through health blogging, I was also invited to be part of the panel and speak about my experiences in using social media for health education. I was invited to be part of the panel about health promotion in the internet in a convention of medical students in Visayas last 2016. Last June 2018, I was invited to speak in the Healthcare and Social Media Summit in Davao. I gave talks on the use of social media in health education. I was also included in the list of Filipino Health Workers and Social Media: Top pages you must follow from MIMS. I also had collaborations with different organizations in health promotion and education.

I would not have experienced all of these had I not started health blogging. Today, I already have 280,000+ followers in Facebook. The average monthly reach of my posts is around 3 million. I have readers from all over the world. My posts reach people as far as Saudi Arabia, UAE, Hongkong, Japan, USA, Canada, Italy, Greece, Norway, Netherlands, France, Belgium, Morocco, Cyprus, Egypt etc. Social media allowed me to reach and educate people even though I don't see them in person. Social media enlarged my borders. It allowed me to cross borders and reach wider audience and educate them about health and diseases.

Now that I gained a little expertise in health blogging, I already started teaching and mentoring others who want to do health blogging. I started mentoring my sister few monthgs ago. She is a registered nutritionist-dietitian. She already has her own Facebook page called Nutrisyong Pinoy where she shares information about diet and nutrition. She already has 14,000+ followers in Facebook. 

So I encourage all of my colleagues in medicine and allied health to give healthcare social media a chance and take advantage of its potential as a tool for health promotion and education. If you are interested in health blogging, maybe we can collaborate or maybe I can help you start your own health blog in the future. Blessings!

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  1. Hello po doc.
    Pkisagot po..august 30 to sept 3 ung dalaw ko.sept 7 nag do kami wala protection.ako po ba ay safe non or unsafe at kailan aqo most fertile days ay ilang araw


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