Public Health Departments Use Social Media for Education and Monitoring

This article from iHealth Beat outlines how local health departments (LHDs) have been using social media to keep the public informed about medical outbreaks and disasters, as well as to increase health awareness and encourage behavior change. NACCHO’s senior researcher Jan Wilhoit discusses the results from the upcoming National Profile of Local Health Departments, which shows the use of social media in health departments. Data indicates that social media use varies based on the size of the population served, with Facebook use at 66 percent for LHDs serving more than a half million people, and at just 39 percent for LHDs serving less than 50,000.

Nick Martin, director of communications at the Boston Public Health Commission, also highlights how his department used social media during the early 2013 flu outbreak. When the Boston Mayor declared a public health emergency around the flu outbreak, the Boston Public Health Commission used Twitter to spread information with the hash tag #Bostonflu. Analysis showed that more than 4.5 million Twitter users were exposed to this hash tag. Read the article to learn more about LHDs and social media, especially during times of emergency.

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