Interacting with friends, posting photos and updating status changes are common practices on Facebook.
But now more users are relying on the social networking site for health information.
In fact, 41 percent of people said they use social media as a health care resource, according to a survey of nearly 23,000 U.S. residents. Most of them -- 94 percent -- said they turned to Facebook for medical content such as diet and exercise tips and health education videos. And some respondents even said the information was likely to impact their future health decisions.
With more citizens turning to social media for health care decisions, hospitals and other health care providers are taking steps to ramp up their social media presence.
Patients are using these social media sites for multiple purposes such as:
• To view health education videos;
• Get diet and exercise tips;
• Learn about upcoming health events; and
• Study disease awareness and
• Health statistics.
And thousands of patients are flocking to the health agencies' social media pages because, unlike traditional Web sites, they allow users more ways to quickly interact with staff and other patients -- from watching videos featuring doctors giving health advice to commenting on a health agency's Facebook wall about the treatment they received at the facility.
Among health care providers with Facebook pages, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's site has more than 80,000 fans, while the American Cancer Society has nearly 226,000 fans.