I have been a proponent of social media and it's use to improve healthcare and improving accessibility for patients to clinicians and hospital resources, there are certain caveats, and precaution are advised when attempting 'self diagnosis'.
In the past ten years, innumerable web sites have become available for patients. Remember that these sites were never meant to be used in an isolated fashion for self diagnosis. They are meant to be educational and as a supplement to professional office or clinic visits.
Entering or searching for symptoms both physical or emotional into a web site will list many answers, some irrelevant. These sites can be accessed either before a visit or after a visit to assist you in discussing your condition with your health provider.
Today, both physicians and patients are faced with decreased face-time during the visit. Web sites are a positive influence for both physician and patient when used properly.
They provide the patient an opportunity to ask appropriate questions for the health provider on initial visits, and for follow up education especially if the provider educates his patient as to what sites are credible sources as a supplement to the office visit. Patients should discuss their sources with their doctor.
Social media also provides relevant and usually accurate information about health information technology advances, not only in EMRs, HIEs but the explosion of mobile apps for their use in non clinical settings, home monitoring and accessing insurance information, geolocation services for emergencies, hospital and offiice wait times, and drug information.
2012 promises to be another innovative year of HIT and Health Reform.