Studies have shown that support is a very important factor in diabetes care and overall wellbeing. In today’s technological world social media provides a whole new kind of peer-to-peer support that makes connecting with others living with diabetes much easier than it has been in the past. So why is it that doctors are slow to endorse using social media to improve treatment?

Recently, online diabetes blogger Kerri Sparling reviewed a panel discussion that took place at a "Friends For Life" conference, which is held every year to educate youth with diabetes. The panel consisted of a group of doctors and other medical professionals asked to share their thoughts on the topic of patients turning to social media for support.

Members of the panel said health professionals have mixed feelings about social media's uses, and that there would need to be broad changes in attitude and mindset in order for them to consider social media and other online support as another tool for people living with diabetes. In my view, they seem to think the prescriptions they write and numbers they rattle off are the most important part of diabetes, while forgetting that in order to deal with diabetes on a day-to-day basis one needs support. For more details and a complete summary of the discussion check out Kerri’s blog.

Social media is so prominent in our culture today that it would only make sense that it be utilized to help improve patient outcomes. Finding diabetes support online can provide a sense of belonging and provide answers for day-to-day questions that you just can’t get at the doctor’s office. There is often a communication gap between patients and their doctors, which can cause a lot of frustration and confusion.

Doctors do, of course, play an important role in helping with diabetes treatment. But they do not play the only role. There are many avenues that one may turn to in order to find success in diabetes management. There are many pieces that have to work together to find that success. Everyone is different and requires an individualized approach to their diabetes treatment, but it can be hard to get that individualization from your doctor alone. Turning to social media can help to create the right environment for someone to take charge of their life and their diabetes and put all of the pieces necessary together to create optimal diabetes care.