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Jan Nolin, forskare inom sociala medier.

2016-02-12 13:13

Can apps be prescribed like medicine?


So says Jan Nolin, researcher in Social Media at the University of Borås. He also believes that librarians play an important role in the introduction of apps within healthcare.

You talk about social media patients?

– I build on the established concept of e-patients, but broaden it to social media patients. There are patients who are high users of social media, using it to gain knowledge about their illness and thus power. They often create engagement in their care process in social media. Healthcare can benefit from this, I think.

Tell us more!

– There are four different kinds of apps that can be used within healthcare. Health-based aps that motivate you to stop smoking are one kind; another kind is those that can promote relaxing, happiness, or good sleep through methods such as mindfulness. Then, we have apps in the category ’Quantified Self’ where users measure their bodies to, for example, check desired exercise results. A fourth variation is network-based in which users find others with similar sets of symptoms to exchange experiences.  

How can we benefit from them?

– Take, for example, ’Quantified Self’. If a person that spends time measuring himself in different ways has a stroke, healthcare personnel don’t have to start from zero. There is already a lot of data that I believe ought to be available to healthcare personnel—it would save very many lives.

Doctors’ area of expertise is not exactly technical solutions?

– No, that’s true. The doctor cannot personally have the overview and that is why the nurse librarian is involved. Their competence is appropriate for having an informational overview but the doctor must have the advisory role. Collaboration between the two groups is something that needs to develop.

So apps can be prescribed as a kind of medicine?

– That is in line with the new patient laws that, among other things, advocate the patient at the centre and patients as co-producers in their care. If you find good ways to prescribe apps to high users of social media, so-called social media patients, I think it may be part of the future.