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VIA: Mashable.com

Is your doctor easily accessible online, or does he or she believe that the Internet isn’t a resource for accessing health information?

If it’s the latter, it may be time to find another doctor. With nearly 90% of online Americans searching the Internet for health resources, it’s likely you and your friends and family already use the Internet to research health issues. It’s true that the web has a jumble of health information, and engaging online takes time, which most health experts don’t have. The good news, however, is that the increasing number of health professionals now embracing the Internet as an important and useful tool for health and wellness is beginning to change your options as a consumer.

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Read on for some ways that social media can help doctors, health experts and everyday users.

Why The Social Media Is Good For Your Health

Searching the internet for various resources, information and news is helpful for many of us who use the computer on a daily basis.  We shop, chat, blog and find out the latest fashion and entertainment news regularly.  Some are even fortunate to interact with their health care professionals online also.

Mashable.com shares with us why more health care experts are embracing the social media now.  Check out what they said:

An exciting new social media trend is emerging that disrupts the standard view of health care delivery and will have a profound impact on us all. Thousands of doctors, nurses, allied health professionals, and health advocates are publicly engaging with people online. In fact, nearly 40% of Americans turn to social media for health information.

Patients and a few early adopter health pros) moved online years ago to share health guidance, give support and find answers. But until recently, many health professionals have avoided using the Internet and social media as a way to help patients. This reluctance is changing, as savvy physicians, nurses, dentists and other health pros are realizing that if their patients are online, then perhaps they should be too. Health practitioners who were once too busy, inexperienced or afraid to share their expertise online, now actively share links on Twitter and Facebook, blog, write for online medical journals, engage on Q&A sites, or contribute to online health sites and forums.

For too long, health and wellness has been a do-it-yourself proposition for patients online, and people have been left on their own to determine how to effectively utilize empty search boxes. People have great access to lots of information, but they must sort through the billions of articles to determine the credible from redundant health encyclopedias, marketing web sites or sites with potentially unknown sources. Then, the task of deciding the credibility of the sources and articles has fallen on the patient alone.

While the number of health experts interacting with patients online is relatively small, there is a clear trend taking shape. A recent Manhattan Research survey of U.S. physicians shows an increase of Internet usage for professional purposes up from 2.5 hours per week in 2002 to 8 hours per week in 2010. More strikingly, while more than 100,000 doctors are using closed social health networks like Sermo.com and publishing in peer-reviewed journals online, thousands of health professionals are now blogging, using Twitter, and connecting with patients on Facebook in very public ways. So much so that this November, for the first time, the American Medical Association released a set of guidelines to direct physicians communicating and engaging with patients via social media. And earlier this year, the CDC also published its own best practices toolkit for how health professionals should be using social media.

Given that so many people now go to the Internet before, during and after their visit to the doctor’s office, the lack of guidance from credible and trusted health experts online is a growing problem. In fact, Manhattan Research shows that 61% of people now use the Internet instead of visiting a doctor. Thankfully, the tide is turning as thousands of health practitioners move online to do much more than interact with friends, family and colleagues and are instead using the social web to dispense their particular health expertise.