Report published on Facebook’s role in healthcare reform

EMERGENCY RESCUE::The report in ‘The Lancet’ examines how the social networking service was used by medical workers to voice their concerns

Staff Writer, with CNA

Fri, Jun 24, 2011 - Page 2

Taiwan’s unique experience of using Facebook to help facilitate healthcare reform has been published in a leading international medical journal, a research team from Taipei Medical University (TMU) said.

The report examines how the social networking service was widely adopted by local medical workers to voice their concerns about the need to improve the existing emergency room system, said Li Yu-chuan (李友專), head of the research team and a TMU professor.

Li said his team monitored and analyzed comments made in a Facebook group called “Rescue Emergency Room,” which was established in February as a platform for emergency room staff to share their experiences at work.

“More than 1,000 people, mostly hospital staff, joined the discussion within a week,” Li said.

As of March 11, there were 1,800 members, 455 posts, and 3,745 comments and “likes” on the posts, the report says.

As most meetings are held face-to-face and are therefore difficult to schedule, Facebook is an efficient alternative forum for discussion among managerial personnel and a large group of employees, Li said.

“The popularity [of Facebook] shows that Taiwanese are not afraid to use technology to express their thoughts,” he said. “This is a very unique phenomenon.”

Asked how the posts had influenced health policy, Li said that Department of Health Minister Chiu Wen-ta (邱文達) not only read the posts, but he also visited various emergency rooms around the country, stepping up dialogue with other health officials to address the issues.

The report, titled “Facebook use leads to healthcare reform in Taiwan,” was published in this month’s edition of The Lancet.