Medication Dispensing Strategies


Social Media

Web page development is a critical aspect of a LHD’s emergency response. The web page address for the emergency response information should be easy to find via search engines and other related websites, and be simple to remember. Local health departments may need to update the public and providers frequently during the day, and a website may be the easiest way to disseminate this information. While both providers and patients may use the same website the information they need will be different and should be located in separate areas on the site. LHDs can list which resources are where in the community, who may get them, and what hours they are available.

Social media is a key resource in informing the public. Social networking sites such as Facebook can be a great mechanism to spread the word about new information since individuals, especially young adults, share information they find valuable with their friends and other contacts on these sites. Additionally, LHDs can send out notifications of updates to their websites via these sites.

Information network sites like Twitter are also useful tools for disseminating information. Twitter is a network through which individuals can post messages, and people in the community can subscribe to receive these messages. Twitter messages are limited to 140 characters, plus a 20 character identifier. Updates can be sent and received via cell phones. Twitter has been utilized to efficiently spread concise information to providers and the public.

During the H1N1 outbreak, a community pharmacy in King County Public Health posted Twitter updates. Posts included which vaccine formulations they had in stock, when they might be getting more vaccine, and answers to common questions. Not only could the pharmacies patients find the Twitter posts on the pharmacy’s website, but concerned individuals could subscribe to the updates and get them in real time on their phones. Utilizing Twitter helped alleviate excess calls to the pharmacy and was effective for marketing the pharmacy’s services. The LHD may use this mechanism to distribute rapid information to their employees, patients and pharmacies. LHDs should help pharmacies understand the best way to reach out to their patients so that they are less overwhelmed by frequent calls to the pharmacy.