Are social networks the future of chronic disease care?

By Bill Siwicki
12:05 PM

The Young Adult and Family Center at the University of California at San Francisco's Langley Porter Psychiatric Hospital and Clinics is using social networking technology to deliver mental health services to adolescents, young adults and veterans who need additional care or who might not otherwise receive care. In this case, the social networks are private and secured, only for the use of patients and related caregivers.

Kim P. Norman, MD, distinguished professor of adolescent and young adult health at the University of California, San Francisco, and founder and director of the Young Adult and Family Center, will discuss the center's pioneering healthcare IT work in an educational session at HIMSS16 titled "Create Chronic Disease Services Using Secure Social Networks."

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Norman explained that along with other and clinical research teams across the country, UCSF is using personal health social networks to create scalable clinical interventions that "allow us to overcome the barriers of distance, a dearth of clinical resources, stigma, and expense that make it so hard for us to provide quality healthcare services to remote and underserved populations."

Norman will discuss how caregivers at the UCSF center leverage secure social networks to reach veterans struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder, to help underserved youth and their families overcome trauma and to aid high school and college students in building resiliency skills.

Norman said that healing, by its very nature, is social, and that social technology lends itself to the healing process.

"Technology can create true collaborative care among multiple providers in multiple systems of care, and secure social media can serve as a virtual psychotherapy office," Norman said. "My colleagues and I also are focusing on integrating mental health services into medical care programs for chronic diseases using personal social networks, including to deliver better cancer, diabetes and dementia care."

Innovative clinical programs leveraging cloud-based medical-grade records and also tie together patients with families and other non-medical caretakers, Norman said, arming them with access to relevant data.

"We use private, secure social networks to build longitudinal relationships with our patients and their families to extend care beyond the traditional points of service into the home, school and community, and, for the first time, to integrate behavioral health and the social context of patient care within chronic disease care programs," Norman explained. "We believe this is the future of chronic disease care."

Norman's session, "Create Chronic Disease Services Using Secure Social Networks," is slated for March 2, 2016, from 8:30-9:30 a.m. at the Sands Expo Convention Center in Galileo 1004.

Twitter: @SiwickiHealthIT

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