Social media has great potential for breaking down some of the isolation of health care professionals working in rural and remote areas. But while many of these professionals can see the benefits of using emerging technologies, uptake has been generally slow, with concerns about privacy, lack of time and no quality control cited as reasons for their reluctance.
These are the intriguing findings of Olga Anikeeva and Petra Bywood in the latest Australian Journal of Rural Health, now available online. The article Social media in primary health care: Opportunities to enhance education, communication and collaboration among professionals in rural and remote locations clearly defines social networking, wikis, blogs and microblogs with examples of sites relevant to rural and remote health workers.
This information is valuable in itself, but the article also describes the advantages of the various social media technologies and analyses why uptake has been slow. The authors suggest that training and technical support is essential: “Social networking enables health professionals to engage with peers, patients and other community members regardless of their geographical location”.
Health care workers who are reluctant to express their ideas by means of social media can always do it via the more traditional means: by submitting their writing to a journal. In his Editorial, David Perkins, Editor-in-Chief of the AJRH, reminds us of the importance of collaboration for research, which proceeds “in small steps where individuals and teams build on the work of others”.
He outlines a clear pathway to maximising a writer’s chances of having their manuscript accepted for publication. There are few text books in rural health so students’ learning is strongly supported by journal articles. Articles may well influence future rural health practice. As Perkins puts it, your paper “can make a difference to policy, clinical practice and perhaps to rural health. People out there are relying on you.”
These two articles and many more are available in the latest edition of The Australian Journal of Rural Health on www.ruralhealth.org.au or on the website of the AJRH’s publisher, Wiley- Blackwell: wileyonlinelibrary.com/journal/AJR
Gordon Gregory - Executive Director: 02 6285 4660