Public Health Informatics

Introduction to Twitter and Telemedicine in Australia

With the help of social media platforms, the interaction with the common people increases to a great extent. It is found that people of different age groups use social media platforms for information exchange. Such platforms not only ensure the sharing of information but also enable the exchange of views, opinions, and ideas. The people can get easy and fast news and updates directly from the organizations or institutes. This creates a bridging link with people wide across the world (Kass-Houte et al., 2013). For this assessment, 3 twitter accounts have been used which are @WHO (World Health Organization), @PHAA (Public Health Association Australia), and @HPH (Harvard Public Health). The following sections will discuss the learning about the feeds of the accounts, a twitter review, and a discussion about telemedicine in Australia.

Twitter Review

From the feeds that were noted after following the twitter accounts, it was learned that these platforms are informing the public about their efforts and news. The accounts were updating the feeds on their handle frequently to connect to the public. It is found that if the posting of the feeds on the accounts is frequent then the bridging link with the common people becomes strong. The PHAA account was found to post information about the budget the country has passed to fight with the COVID-19 outbreak and the posting of the news was frequent and its feeds provided information that how the strategies used by the health government have helped in improving the conditions during the disease outbreak. Not only about the COVID-19, but the account also posted information about the upcoming webinars on COVID-19, fires in the US, and various climate-related posts (Public Health Association Australia, 2020). With the use of this tool, people can get information about health projects, health news, or public health-related to other information (Krueger et al., 2015). The HPA account was found to be active at posting information about COVID-19, testing for the vaccine, management about the disease, posts regarding the lecture series during the pandemic for clarity of the doubts and questions across the world about the virus. The post also informed the people of the strategies that were insufficient in protecting the President at the White House. Thereby, it critiques about the strategies that were used by the government during the pandemic. Its posts clear the doubts or mis-concepts of the population about the infection transmission about the virus. One of the posts also critiqued the response of the U.K. government in the management of public health during the virus outbreak periods (Harvard Public Health, 2020).

The WHO account provided information frequently about the misinformation that is spreading about the viruses, methods to protect from the virus, wishes, and condolence messages for the losses or health promotions. Not only had news about the virus, but this account also showed information about the mental health among adolescents in one of its feeds for 5 weeks. This was also stated that how the strategies are economically smart (World Health Organization, 2020). Hence, it shows that if the information is transferred in such a manner that it explains the reason for the steps taken for a better understanding of the people across the nation. This helps in building up trust between the government or the organization and the people. It helps in creating transparency and puts the aim topic of concern in lime-light. If a post is re-tweeted then the people get aware of the major topics of concern and the focus is maintained. However, an issue may arise if an official site is posting re-tweeted posts again and again (McClellan et al., 2017). Such platforms not only encourage health communication but also promote engagement and health promotion. Twitter accounts of the government or health institutes also use hashtags to direct the focus of the reader on the associated factors or related topics as well (Kass-Hout et al., 2013). Through the review of the feeds, it was observed that the posts not only made people are of the current situations but provided information about the different health-related topics from different parts of the world. People are also made aware of the various ways to combat health issues such as in the case of Covid-19 messages were spread to maintain social-distancing, washing of hands, and use of masks. Hence, this platform ensures a free account set up to get, communicate with the original brands or health institutes directly, and share of the information views ad feedback within a fraction of seconds. However, due to the character limit set by Twitter brief communication is not possible. There are few medical shows on the television but this platform can provide information about the various medical services as well, this might be helpful in those areas where telecommunication is well developed. Therefore, with the help of mobile phones and Twitter medical information about health can be accessed.

Twitter is used as a powerful communication tool for both the user and the actor. The site allows the user to follow the accounts of heath public sectors of his/her own interest and use key terms like Ebola, climate, funds, or others to search for desired topics. It is a platform to inform and educate the population across the world about the public health topics and issues of major concerns such as cardiovascular health, diabetes, obesity, funds released by the government in health sectors, and various management plans. The platform is used for monitoring the trends and health status; however, it can sense the health status of the public only such as diseases or reports but neither it provides information about the water and air quality nor it can monitor refrigeration temperature.

According to Sinnenberg et al. (2017), Twitter is a social media tool that is used for the sharing of information in form of messages across the globe. These days it is found that public health researchers have also started using this tool. The public health researchers have been using the databases earlier but now they use Twitter and few other social media tools for data collection regarding the population-behavior and population-health levels. However, to improve and increase the comparability and reproducibility of the account studies standardized guidelines are required to be made. With the real-time nature of the content, this tool ensures a unique and large amount of data for public health-related aspects (Park et al., 2015). The ease of access and search is very simple and fast, anyone can access it from anywhere across the globe. This tool not only provides information and latest updates about the political issues but also provides data about the public health-related every issue; news such as Ebola, dengue, COVID-19, information or news about the deaths due to any health issues can be easily posted by the health care departments or institutes on their official and original handles (Tursunbayevaet al., 2017). So, that the common people can get information about the same and get aware as well. For example, the U.S. government uses the Twitter platform to know about the views of their population about the e-cigarette ban in the country (Lee et al., 2019). This will also help in gaining the opinions from the common people or sharing of the ideas about any of the health issues or health strategies.

However, it is also found that the data available such as statistics, age, religion, gender, or socio-economic status can be extrapolated easily (Lee et al., 2019). The health departments or the government are using such e-modes or e-platforms to increase transparency, democratic participation, co-production, and informed decision-making. Twitter can also play the role of an advocator in case of many public health issues by opposing or supporting messages for the information posted on the site. Many public health organizations or institutes can use it for feedback collection from their consumers. The views or comments from the consumers will help them to reforms their health care services for improved and better outcomes. Twitter can also be used by the health care sector organizations to inform their customers about the future updates and news so that consumer is well informed about the future plans or updated policies (Giustini et al., 2018). This ensures continuous improvement and collaborative efforts.

Telemedicine in Australia

The delivery of medicine or health care services to people with the help of advanced and modern technology has been targeted for decades. This results in increased accessibility and availability of health care services to Australians by including the use of the following technologies: phone calls, messages, faxes, or mails (Scott et al., 2020). However, the barriers to the uptake of telemedicine in Australia include preferences for traditional health care knowledge, infrastructure, equipment skills, time, and funding. In the case of rural and remote areas the information communication technology (ICT) issues such as poor availability and access to modern telemedicine technologies due to lack of information and knowledge. Therefore, the telecommunication id rural and remote areas act as a barrier to telemedicine in Australia (Almathami et al., 2020). The availability of health care professionals in such areas is low therefore, it acts as management issues because they suffer from longer workloads as they had to invest more time in medical practices than the doctors of urban regions (Bele et al., 2019). The strategies have not been made in such a manner that if the doctors want to extend their services to telemedicine then they need more funds thereby, making this approach a bit costly. This shows that poor management has made this service appear as a costly approach for the users and appliers. This service includes the use of video-conferencing as well, but it acts as a barrier for deaf patients or consumers and similarly, the messages in the English language can act as a barrier for non-English or uneducated patients. Such services have not focused on the issues faced by disabled individuals as one of their consumers and become an ICT issue.

The government is not releasing enough funds for the progress of this service in comparison to the private sector and the private sector is doing things for public health that might be a bit risky for the health outcomes (Bagot et al., 2020). The GP2U and MedAdvisor are 2 of the various telemedicine services in Australia but due to their accessibility and cost issues the less-educated, non-English, remote people with poor-economic status and non-aware or unskilled people cannot use such services; in this way, these issues show the ICT problems (New, 2018). However, the telemedicine services do not provide any printed or written legal proof of the prescription which is a matter of major concern. The health departments of the country are well aware of this management and ICT issues and they are still working on it. The CSIRO’s Australian eHealth Center has managed to train their nurses to take retinal images with the help of the use of special software while conducting the telemedicine service care to the customers (Celler, 2017). This saved the time of traveling especially in the case of old and aged patients who cannot manage long-distance traveling. It is also helpful in case if those patients who cannot afford long-distance traveling.

The barriers can be resolved by conducting the programs for the health professionals and to the rural and remote regions for training them about the skills for using telemedicine services. The use of different languages can be useful in training the non-English individual of the country. Centers should be created for customer help services to assist the individuals in the use of services. The pharmacy center should be linked to the telemedicine service providers and services for printouts so that the legally prescribed information can be printed out at the pharmacy center and medicine can be delivered as per the prescription. The hospitals should also have professionals who can re-check the prescribed medication with the pharmacy center and then deliver it to hospitalized patients. The governmental and non-governmental organizations should become forward to put efforts to provide centers in rural and remote regions within different distance ranges so that customers can access the benefits of telemedicine (Fix et al., 2020). Not every individual or region has the benefits of wireless services, high network speed, improved mobile or internet services, or computer technologies; therefore collaborative efforts of government and private sector associations can be helpful in resolving the issues (New, 2018). One of the cons of telemedicine is there is no chance of physical examination so serious medical problems cannot be resolved through such services. If the patients of medical absorption are provided with telemedicine services then they can be benefited from the help of advantages such as no need to travel and less cost. There should be partnerships with the telecommunication companies to ensure high-speed internet and mobile services at various remote regions so that the services can be availed to every user. Such collaborations will result in high bandwidth internet service, and other barriers such as internet services, 3G or 4G services, or mobile telephony can be resolved as well. The government should be developed provisions or plans to provide free hotspot services to individuals who cannot afford the high costs of internet packs. Thus, this telemedicine offers various advantages to the service providers as well to service users such as reduced costs, reduced time, high accessibility, fast services, improves access, reduce inefficiencies, reduced needs to travel, and personalized medications (Fix et al., 2020). Moreover, the studies of the nurses or the health professionals should be diversified such as the application of engineering, information technology (IT), or computer science exposure will develop the knowledge and skills about digital health services or related solutions. Collaboration from the IT companies and related software developers will be helpful in the management of the roadblocks faced during the implementation or progress of the services.

Conclusion on Twitter and Telemedicine in Australia

It is concluded that the use of social media platforms such as twitter has enabled the users with various advantages such as easy access to various health-related organizations, new and updated about the various strategies or plans of the government health departments, or information about the climates. Therefore, it is a great tool for public health information collection and sharing of the views. Moreover, the use of telemedicine in Australia faces various barriers such as funds, infrastructure, poor skills, and various others; but these can be managed well with the help of IT departments and collaborative efforts of telecompanies, governmental and non-governmental organizations. The management and communication issues such as the non-availability of high-speed internet, mobile phones, hotspots, and high-cost services can be resolved with the collaborative efforts of government and private sector companies and associations.

References for Twitter and Telemedicine in Australia

Almathami, H. K. Y., Win, K. T., & Vlahu-Gjorgievska, E. (2020). Barriers and facilitators that influence telemedicine-based, real-time, online consultation at patients’ homes: Systematic literature review. Journal of Medical Internet Research22(2), e16407. https://doi.org/10.2196/16407

Bagot, K. L., Moloczij, N., Barclay-Moss, K., Vu, M., Bladin, C. F., & Cadilhac, D. A. (2020). Sustainable implementation of innovative, technology-based health care practices: A qualitative case study from stroke telemedicine. Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare26(1-2), 79-91. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F1357633X18792380

Bele, S., Cassidy, C., Curran, J., Johnson, D. W., Saunders, C., & Bailey, J. M. (2019). Barriers and enablers to implementing a virtual tertiary-regional Telemedicine Rounding and Consultation (TRAC) model of inpatient pediatric care using the Theoretical Domains Framework (TDF) approach: A study protocol. BMC Health Services Research19(1), 1-9. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12913-018-3859-2

Celler, B. (2017). The CSIRO National Telehealth Trial, significance for rural and remote health care. Rural Health. Retrieved from: http://www.ruralhealth.org.au/14nrhc/sites/default/files/Celler%2C%20Branko%2C%20A2.pdf

Fix, L., Seymour, J. W., Sandhu, M. V., Melville, C., Mazza, D., & Thompson, T. A. (2020). At-home telemedicine for medical abortion in Australia: A qualitative study of patient experiences and recommendations. BMJ Sexual & Reproductive Health46(3), 172-176.http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmjsrh-2020-200612

Giustini, D., Ali, S. M., Fraser, M., &KamelBoulos, M. N. (2018). Effective uses of social media in public health and medicine: A systematic review of systematic reviews. Online Journal of Public Health Informatics10(2), e215. https://doi.org/10.5210/ojphi.v10i2.8270

Harvard Public Health. (2020). Harvard Public Health. Retrieved from: www.Twitter.com/Harwardpublichealth

Kass-Hout, T. A., &Alhinnawi, H. (2013).Social media in public health. Britiain Medical Bulletin108(1), 5-24.https://doi.org/10.1093/bmb%2Fldt028

Krueger, E. A., & Young, S. D. (2015). Twitter: A novel tool for studying the health and social needs of transgender communities. JMIR Mental Health2(2), e16.http://doi.org/10.2196/mental.4113

Lee, J., Kim, J., Hong, Y. J., Piao, M., Byun, A., Song, H., & Lee, H. S. (2019). Health information technology trends in social media: Using twitter data. Healthcare Informatics Research25(2), 99–105. https://doi.org/10.4258/hir.2019.25.2.99

McClellan, C., Ali, M. M., Mutter, R., Kroutil, L., &Landwehr, J. (2017).Using social media to monitor mental health discussions− Evidence from Twitter. Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association24(3), 496-502.https://academic.oup.com/jamia/article-abstract/24/3/496/2907899

New, C. A. (2018). Digital health: Creating a new growth industry for Australia. Australian National Digital Health Initiative. Retrieved from: https://andhealth.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Digital-Health_Creating-a-New-Growth-Industry-for-Australia.pdf

Park, H., Reber, B. H., & Chon, M. G. (2016).Tweeting as health communication: Health organizations’ use of Twitter for health promotion and public engagement. Journal of Health Communication21(2), 188-198.https://doi.org/10.1080/10810730.2015.1058435

Public Health Association Australia. (2020). Public Health Association Australia. Retrieved from: www.Twitter.com/PHAA_

Scott, A. C., McDonald, A., Roberts, T., Martin, C., Manns, T., Webster, M., & Atherton, J. J. (2020). Cardiovascular telemedicine program in rural Australia. The New England Journal of Medicine383(9), 883-884.https://doi.org/10.1056/nejmc1913719

Sinnenberg, L., Buttenheim, A. M., Padrez, K., Mancheno, C., Ungar, L., & Merchant, R. M. (2017). Twitter as a tool for health research: A systematic review. American Journal of Public Health107(1), e1–e8.https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2016.303512

Tursunbayeva, A., Franco, M., &Pagliari, C. (2017). Use of social media for e-Government in the public health sector: A systematic review of published studies. Government Information Quarterly34(2), 270-282.https://doi.org/10.1016/j.giq.2017.04.001

World Health Organization. (2020). World Health Organization. Retrieved from: www.Twitter.com/WHO

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